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Montessori can be hard to sum up in just a few words—it is a philosophy on education and child development that runs deep. It's a way of seeing the world. I think one of the easiest ways to get an idea for what Montessori means is to listen to the language that Montessori teachers use.

Montessori teachers use language that respects the child and provides consistent expectations. Words are chosen carefully to encourage children to be independent, intrinsically motivated critical thinkers.

Here are seven common phrases you'd probably hear in any Montessori classroom, and how to incorporate them into your home life.

1. “I saw you working hard."

The focus on process over product is a key tenet of Montessori. We avoid telling the children "good work" or "your work is beautiful" and instead comment on how they concentrated for a long time, or how they wrote so carefully and their work could be easily read by anyone.

Praising your child's hard work, rather than his results, helps instill a growth mindset where he believes he can improve through his own efforts.

Instead of telling your child, "You're a good boy," tell him "I noticed you being kind to your little brother yesterday when you shared your truck." This shows him you see his good behavior, without placing judgments on him. Instead of telling him, "You're such a good artist," try, "I noticed you kept working on your picture until you got it just how you wanted it."

2. “What do you think about your work?"

In Montessori, the child is his own teacher. The teachers are there as guides to give him lessons and help him but he discovers things for himself through the carefully prepared environment and materials.

Self-analysis is a big part of that discovery.

When your child asks you, "Do you like my picture?" try asking her about it instead of just saying you love it. Ask her what she thinks about it, how she decided what colors to use, and what her favorite part is. Help her start to evaluate her work for herself, rather than looking for your approval.

3. “Where could you look for that?"

Independence is another key value in any Montessori classroom or home. Our goal as teachers is to help the children do things for themselves. So while it's sometimes easier to simply answer a child's question about where something is or how to do something, we often answer questions with another question such as, "Where could you look for that?" or "Which friend could you ask for help?"

If your son loses his shoe and you see it peeking out from under the bed, try asking leading questions, rather than just handing it to him.

"Where were you when you took your shoes off? Have you checked your room?" This may take a little more time, but it will be worth it when he starts taking more initiative and coming to you less.

4. “Which part would you like my help with?"

In a Montessori classroom, children are responsible for many things, including taking care of their environment. Children often take great pride in this responsibility, spending time arranging flowers to put on tables, watering the garden, and happily washing the windows and tables.

Sometimes though, a job is just too big and overwhelming. In these cases, we ask the child how we can help. We don't want to swoop in and "save the day," sending the message that the child is not capable, but we also don't want to leave the child overwhelmed.

For example: If your child is tired, but needs to put her Legos away before bed, all of those pieces can be overwhelming. It doesn't have to be all or nothing though. Try "which color would you like me to put away" or "I'll put away the yellow pieces and you put away the blue" to show that you're in it together.

5. “In our class, we …." (Or at home— “In our home, we…")

This little phrase is used to remind the children of any number of classroom rules and desired behaviors. Phrasing reminders as objective statements about how the community works, rather than barking commands, is much more likely to elicit cooperation from a child.

"In our class, we sit while we eat" is less likely to incite a power struggle than "Sit down."

Like all of us, children want to be a part of the community, and we simply remind them of how the community works.

If you have a rule about walking in the house, instead of "stop running," try saying "we walk inside our house" and see if you get fewer arguments.

6. “Don't disturb him, he's concentrating."

Protecting children's concentration is a fundamental part of the Montessori philosophy. Montessori classes give children big blocks of uninterrupted work time, usually three hours. This allows children to develop deep concentration, without being disturbed because the schedule says it's time to move on to learning something else.

It can be tempting to compliment a child who is working beautifully, but sometimes even making eye contact is enough to break their concentration.

Next time you walk by your child while he's focused on drawing a picture or building a tower, try just walking by instead of telling him how great it is. You can make a mental note and tell him later that you noticed him concentrating so hard on his creation.

7. “Follow the Child."

This last one is an important one. It's something Montessori teachers say to each other and to parents—not to the child. We often remind each other to "follow the child," to trust that each child is on his or her own internal developmental timeline, that he is doing something for a reason.

This reminds us to search for the reason behind the behavior. It reminds us that not all children will be walking by one or reading by four—they haven't read the books and couldn't care less about the milestones they are "supposed to" reach.

Following the child means remembering that each child is unique and has his own individual needs, passions, and gifts, and he should be taught and guided accordingly.

If you can't get your child interested in reading, try watching what he does love—if he loves being silly, it may be that a joke book is what piques his interest, not the children's classic you had in mind. Remembering to "follow your child" can help you see him in a different way and work with him instead of against him.

One of beautiful things about Montessori is that it is so much more than a type of education—it is a way of seeing and being with children. Even if your child does not go to Montessori school, you can easily bring the ideas into your home and watch your child's independence and concentration grow.

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


Our Partners

With kids home from school doing more of their learning online—and parents across the country just trying to get a little bit of their own work done at home—kids are getting record amounts of screen time these days. Preschoolers have jam-packed video conferencing schedules, kindergarteners are watching read-alouds on laptops, and elementary and middle school kids are suddenly turning in every assignment online.

How can we help kids adjust to spending so much time on screens, especially when they may have a strong association with screen time as playtime? And how can parents adjust to letting kids have so much more screen time when we've been told we should cut back on how much time our little ones look at our phones?

FEATURED VIDEO

Here's how to help kids adjust to being on devices more than usual:

Create separation between learning screen time + play screen time

In the big picture, screen time is screen time regardless of how it's being used, and there are always risks to overusing something. However, it's helpful to differentiate between screen time used for learning activities and screen time for play activities.

For example, reading a book online or participating in a Zoom class meeting is different than playing a game or chatting. Establish clear expectations around what constitutes "learning time" and "playtime" on devices. For each type of activity, be clear about the where (maybe learning always happens at the kitchen table, and play is usually on the couch) as well as the when (learning in the morning and play during the hour before dinner).

It's important that kids aren't media multitasking by using multiple devices or apps at one time when they're trying to learn. Keep them on one screen at a time, which will help them stick with their activity until completion.

Set healthy limits around using devices, even for school

Use a timer or parental controls to set and enforce time limits for devices, even when your kids are using a computer or tablet for school activities. Children are used to having scheduled blocks of time at school. You can schedule your child's learning screen time so that there's a defined block of time for working on an online math lesson or for watching a video of a science experiment. This makes the expectations clearer for the kids—and makes screen time easier for parents to manage.

Parents can also use parental control apps like Qustodio to see what kids are doing on their devices and how long they are using different apps and websites for. The app allows parents to set a limit on how much time kids are spending on entertainment and recreational apps and websites and allow unlimited use for educational tools.

Include screen-free learning time

Creating a balance of screen time and other non-screen activities is important. Going back and forth between activities can help avoid the problems associated with using devices for lengthy periods of time.

Make sure kids get physical movement throughout the day, give them time to engage in hobbies and activities without devices and have them participate in tasks around the home, such as helping make dinner or folding the laundry. Including kids in activities like cooking, cleaning and organizing gives kids practice with reading, writing and math while encouraging the development of necessary life skills.

Give yourself a break

Ultimately, parents need to give themselves some grace during this time to try to do the best they can with finding balance. A recent study suggests that active screen time, such as playing an educational game or interacting with friends or family online, can have a positive impact on child development. Even if you were previously opposed to screen time for your kids, take heart: This situation isn't forever.
Learn + Play

This year Passover will be from April 8th to the 16th—and, in the middle of a pandemic. This means that beloved traditions may be harder to make happen. Gathering with family and friends for a Seder likely is not possible, and you may find yourself feeling pretty upset about the changes.

First, allow yourself the space to be sad. Passover is a very important holiday, and it's understandable to feel disappointed that so much may need to change this year.

Next, consider how you might be able to use virtual connections—can you FaceTime your family into your living room?

This might also be a wonderful time to incorporate new traditions, especially ones that allow your kids to participate in the Seder.

Here are 8 kid-friendly ways to celebrate Passover this year:

1. Review the meaning behind the traditions

Kids are naturally curious, especially where stories are involved. Before their questions start coming in, it would be helpful to review the story of Passover, along with the meaning behind the traditions, on your own. This article from Time Magazine gives a great overview of Passover (and will likely reignite your own curiosity, too!).

2. Find a kid-friendly Passover story

The Passover story is beautiful...and pretty scary, especially for a younger audience. Luckily, there are some excellent kid-friendly versions of the story out there that convey the meaning, but leave out the frightening details—we'll save talking about the plagues until they're a little older. Here are a few to check out:

3. Bring the story to life

passover_story

With Love, Ima

Kids love stories—especially when they can visualize what's going on. These adorable finger puppet templates are so fun, and will help your child appreciate the magic and power of the Passover story.

4. Explain the Seder in a way kids can understand

The Seder is, of course, at the center of the Passover holiday. There are so many unique ways to have a Seder so feel free to get creative and make it work for you. If your child will participate in the Seder, they'll likely want to understand what's going on! Chabad's brief overview of the Passover Seder is perfect for concise, easy-to-understand answers.

5. Make matzo ball soup! 🥄

Matzo ball soup is the quintessential Passover food—and your kids will love helping roll the balls! If you don't have a traditional family recipe, this matzo ball soup recipe from the New York Times gets stellar reviews. And, this lemony-twist on the traditional recipe looks unreal, if you are looking for something a bit different this year.

6. Make a cup for Elijah

cup for Elijah

Tori Avie

One of the beloved traditions of the Seder is to set out a cup of wine for Elijah. Why not let your kids make it? We love this DIY cup (and totally understand if you want to make one, too.)

7. Find the afikomen

afikomen

Creative Jewish Mom

When a Seder starts, a piece of matzo is broken, and hidden for your children find. This activity is fun on it's own. Enhance it by making a DIY no-sew Afikomen pouch.

8. Read a child-friendly Haggadah

kids_haggadah

The Haggadah is the book used during the Seder to guide the telling of the story and the traditions. Finding a children's version of the Haggadah is a great way to get them involved and keep them interested.

The Kveller Haggadah: A Seder for Curious Kids (and their Grownups) is an awesome choice.

Lifestyle

During a recent coronavirus press briefing at the White House, Dr. Deborah Birx, a leading physician on the federal coronavirus response team, emphasized the critical importance of social distancing over the next two weeks. Referring to the guidelines issued in March by the White House, Dr. Birx has been widely quoted as saying:

"This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe, and that means everybody doing the 6 feet distancing, washing your hands."

Dr. Birx's comment has been interpreted as advising Americans to avoid grocery shopping in stores for the next two weeks. While most people already know the importance of doing their part to slow the spread of coronavirus, following this particular advice may be a challenge for many families.

FEATURED VIDEO

Snagging a grocery delivery spot or curbside pickup slot has become next to impossible in most areas (assuming delivery is available), and online grocery services are struggling to keep up with demand. And with a growing number of at-risk delivery service workers demanding better on-the-job protections, you may be having second thoughts about using delivery services, even if you can find a slot.

You may find, despite your best efforts, that you just have to go to the store.

If you do need to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy during this time, here's what you should know in order to shop safely.

1. Have a plan

Minimize your trips to the store as much as you can, and time your shopping trip for a day and time that foot traffic is as low as possible (so, not on Saturday afternoon, if you can avoid it). Early in the day is a good time to go, since aisles tend to be less crowded, and stores are at their cleanest right after opening. Many stores are offering special hours for older and immunocompromised customers—if you're pregnant, consider shopping during these hours. Shop by yourself if at all possible.

2. Make a detailed list

In order to complete your shopping as quickly as possible, make a detailed list in advance, and organize your list by grocery section—produce, dairy, meats, baking needs, household items, and so on—so that you can move swiftly through each section of the store. For in-demand items such as bread, meat, sauces and pasta, think of alternatives in advance so you can grab "plan B" if you need to. Experts suggest making a paper list that can be disposed of rather than using your phone in the store.

3. Wear a mask

The CDC and the White House have advised Americans to wear homemade masks to add an extra level of protection when out and about. To protect yourself and the grocery store staff who are working hard to provide much-needed supplies during a stressful time, wearing a mask is now the recommended (and considerate) choice.

4. Follow hygiene and social distancing guidelines

You know the drill, mama. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after you shop. Many stores are offering wipes for shopping cart handles, so make sure you use them to wipe down the cart handle. (You may want to bring your own wipes just in case, if you have them.) Bring hand sanitizer, and use it after you touch freezer case handles or other surfaces. As you can guess, now's not the time to squeeze half a dozen avocados to check for ripeness—touch only the items you intend to buy. Maintain physical distance between yourself and other shoppers as well as grocery store workers.

5. Bag your own groceries

Follow your store's guidelines for reusable bags (which have been temporarily prohibited in some stores), but whether you bring your own bags or use the bags provided by the store, be prepared to bag your own purchases.

6. Don't make yourself crazy with disinfecting purchases

Should you wipe down every last strawberry and Cheerio when you get home? The good news is, it's probably not necessary to disinfect every item you buy. Experts still say that the virus is much more likely to be transmitted person-to-person, rather than surface-to-person.

While there's a lot that's not yet known about the virus, here are the steps experts recommend when you bring your groceries home:

  • Wash nonporous containers: According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), "Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19." But Consumer Reports suggests that there's no harm in washing or wiping cans, plastic containers and glass based on its interviews with epidemiologists and experts.
  • Wipe cardboard containers: A March 2020 study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases suggests that the coronavirus can survive on cardboard surfaces for up to 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for up to 3 days. So while experts say the odds of a box of pasta transmitting the virus are slim, wiping boxes with a disinfecting wipe can't hurt.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables with water: Experts say that food is unlikely to transmit coronavirus, but you should always wash produce anyway to remove pesticides.

7. Wipe your counters after you unpack and wash your hands.

Once all your purchases are stored, clean your counters with a disinfecting spray, and wash your hands again.

News

This week isn't going to be an easy one for most of us. There are hard things happening in the world right now as the coronavirus pandemic continues. We're not going to pretend like this is an easy time to be a parent, because it is not. It's okay to say you're not okay today. But it's also okay to allow yourself to enjoy the lighter moments of life because these moments are still happening inside our homes during the pandemic.

This is a hard week, but there are still so many things making us smile.

Here are a few of the good news headlines we're loving right now:

This baby's quarantine style birthday party is going viral 

So many events have been canceled because of the pandemic, and many first birthday parties are among them. For parents who were looking forward to celebrating their little one's first birthday with friends and family having to cancel the guest list is hard.

Mama Kylie Najjar was one of the many parents having to make the hard choice to cancel her baby's birthday party, but she decided to make it special by doubling down on the theme of social distancing.

Her baby's big day has now gone viral because even in a difficult time like this pandemic, small moments still matter and can still make us smile.

This viral illustration highlights how the pandemic is impacting newly postpartum mamas 

The artist Spirit Y Sol touched so many mamas this week, letting art speak for the women who have had their postpartum experience changed so drastically by the pandemic. Through an essay and accompanying illustration Sol describes what was stolen from those currently in the fourth trimester.

"This is not what you had planned. This is not what you'd envisioned. There are no visits from friends, no loving doula bringing you soup, no "mommy and me" yoga classes, no coffee dates, no stroller walks through the park." Sol writes.

"But mama, know this—We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Sol is right. We are in this together, mama. And we are here for you.

Some Good News with John Krasinski has a surprise for Hamilton fans 

Last week we told you about John Krasinski's new coronavirus YouTube series, Some Good News, and this week he's going viral again with his second episode.

He gets his wife Emily Blunt to make an appearance and organized a treat for Hamilton fans, having Lin Manuel Miranda and the rest of the cast put on a performance (through Zoom, of course).

We love how Krasinski is using his creativity and connections to make people smile during this tough time.

This mom just welcomed baby no. 22, 30 years after her first child's birth! 

Back in February we told you the mom of Britain's biggest family was going viral after announcing she was expecting her 22nd child.

Now, Sue Radford's 22nd baby is here. She's a girl and her name has not yet been announced by the Radfords, Sue and her husband Noel.

Sue was 14 years old when the couple's oldest child, Chris, came into the world in 1989 (Noel was 18). Both Sue and Noel were adopted at birth and when they found out they were expecting as teens they decided together to make the choice to parent.

Four years after Chris was born they got married, and a few decades (and many kids) later they became reality TV legends in the UK, starting with a show called 15 Kids and Counting. They now have more kids than their American counterparts from 19 Kids and Counting, the Duggars. Besides TV appearances, the Radfords also own a pie shop.

In total, Sue has given birth to 12 girls and 10 boys so far (one son, Alfie, was stillborn), but giving birth during the coronavirus pandemic was a bit different. "I was so worried that Noel wouldn't be allowed to stay with me," she told The Sun.

Radford continued: "We have all been isolating and it seemed wrong to leave our safe bubble to go to a hospital, but when I got there I felt safe straight away."

Kristen Bell's Hello Bello launched a new 'camp' you'll want to check out 

Everyone is looking for extra ways to keep kids entertained these days and that's why Kristen Bell + Dax Shepard have launched Camp HelloBello on Instagram Live and IGTV!

Each week there's a new schedule for activities like singing, dancings and crafting (and Hello Bello is paying people creators to participate, you can apply to be a "camp counselor" at CampHelloBello.com).

According to a press release, "Schedules will be released on a weekly basis with lots of special guests (like Kristen + Dax and their friends) and members of our community to add some extra creativity to kids' days (and fill up some time for the parents too!)."

Sounds super cool!

This viral post highlights how our kids are 'little heroes' during this crisis 

There is a viral post floating around the internet that gives some credit where it is due: To our children.

Our kids have been champs during this crisis, as the post notes, "their little lives have been turned upside down...[but] every day they get up and carry on despite everything that is going on! Painting pictures, drawings to show their support to the heroes out there and to make other children walking past feel better!"

We see you, little heroes.

You're doing great and we are so proud of your resiliency!

Viral video shows even social distancing can't stop toddlers from 'socializing' 

Twitter user Toby Marriott went viral this week thanks to an 8 second clip of his nephew, "the friendliest toddler you'd ever meet." According to his uncle, this 3-year-old always says hello to anyone he meets on the street, but he's not running into any people on his daily walks these days...so he has to pretend.

"Hope this brightens up your day!" Marriott captioned a video of his nephew saying hello to an invisible friend. It's super cute and if we hang in there, one day this little guy will be able to say hello to his neighbors again.

News
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