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Montessori is child-directed. Rather than hearing adults tell children what to do, you will hear lots and lots of questions. Asking children questions helps them make decisions for themselves and take ownership over their own experiences. You will also learn so much about how your little one thinks and feels by asking lots of questions!

Here are 10 questions to ask your child regularly:

1. What happens next?

Asking this simple question, rather than telling your child what to do next, helps him take ownership of his daily routine. We use this question all the time in the classroom.

If a child first comes in in the morning and looks a little lost, we ask, “What happens next?” and he responds that he needs to put his belongings away. If he is done eating lunch and starts to get silly, we ask, “What should you do next?” and he remembers that it’s time to pack up his lunch and wash his plate.

Hearing this leading question is often all a child needs to get back on track with what he should be doing, whether it’s cleaning up his toys, putting his shoes away, or putting on his coat in the morning.

2. What do you want to choose first?

In a Montessori classroom, each child chooses what he is going to work on each day, within limits. For some children, this independent choice comes quite naturally, but for others, it can be a challenge. Some children need practice making decisions for themselves.

If your child is clinging to you or looking unsure of what to do, whether at home or at a park or play date, ask her what she wants to play with first. If she still can’t decide, try giving her two or three suggestions, for example, “Would you like to start with the swings or the slide?”

3. What materials do we need?

Whether you’re baking cookies, starting an art project, or packing for a trip, helping your child think through the things he will need is a great way to practice logical thinking and problem solving skills. If he’s old enough, help him write out a list and check things off as you gather them.

4. How do you feel about that?

Young children can often be overwhelmed by their emotions, and may need help putting a label on how they’re feeling. Regularly asking your child how she feels can help her begin to recognize and become more comfortable with her emotions.

She may need help naming her emotions at first. You might say, “I would feel sad if someone kicked sand at me” or “Do you feel scared? That was a loud noise.” With practice, your child will become increasingly able to name her own emotions.

It is also helpful to talk about how other people might be feeling. You might say, “His mom left and he’s crying, how do you think he feels?” These simple questions are a great way to start building empathy.

5. How can I help?

When a child is upset or overwhelmed, it is so tempting to swoop in and fix everything for him. Try to pause though and ask how you can help instead. This prevents us from taking over a child’s process.

For example, if he’s building a tall tower and it falls over and he starts to cry, it may be tempting to quickly rebuild it for him. If you ask how you can help though, he may really just need you to sit with him while he rebuilds it himself.

6. Would you like to tell me your story?

When children have conflicts with each other, it can seem impossible to come up with a “fair” solution that makes everyone happy. Many times though, a child doesn’t need us to do anything but listen. Learning social skills is hard, and often a child just wants to tell someone her side of the story.

7. What would you like to read about?

In a Montessori school, children have a large degree of autonomy with their learning. One child may want to research dinosaurs while another wants to write an elaborate story about mermaids. Regardless of what type of school your child attends though, letting him choose some books for himself allows him to think about what he’s interested in, and learn more about it.

8. Would you like me to sit with you or do you need space?

We have had many parents at school tell us how funny it was when their little 2 or 3-year-old yelled “I need space!” after a disagreement. The truth is, it is funny to hear such a little person say this, but it is also a sign of emotional awareness.

Just like adults, sometimes children need a big hug and lots of cuddles when they’re upset, and sometimes they just need to be alone for a few minutes to reflect and collect themselves. Giving them the choice helps them begin to recognize and meet their emotional needs.

9. What could you do differently next time?

Montessori schools do not generally use punishment. Instead, we talk through issues that arise, discuss why certain actions are not okay, and talk about what a child could do differently in the future.

One very sweet little girl who was in my class once overheard her grandmother say something was “stupid.” She said to her grandmother, “We don’t say ‘stupid.’ What could you do differently next time?” I loved this so much because it showed that the little girl had really internalized the process of analyzing our actions and thinking through how to behave.

10. What could we do to help?

A big part of Montessori is building a peaceful community, within the classroom, but also in a broader sense with the outside world. One way to instill an attitude of helpfulness in your child is to ask them what they could do to help when you see someone in need.

This could be as simple as witnessing another child fall down at the park, or seeing a lost dog walking down the street. Asking your child, “What could we do to help?” shows them that everyone, big and small, can play a part in building a peaceful community.

Telling children what to do is often a necessary part of parenting. Make sure to ask your child lots of questions too, though, to allow him the opportunity think through situations on his own.

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Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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This month isn't just the start of a new year, but the start of a new life for those due in 2019. If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama.

Here are some fellow mamas-to-be expecting in 2019:

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega 

The Spy Kids actress and mom to 2-year-old Ocean will soon have to get herself a double stroller because PenaVega and her husband Carlos are expecting again.

"Holy Moly!!! Guys!!! We are having another baby!!!!" captioned an Instagram post. "Do we wake Ocean up and tell him??!! Beyond blessed and excited to continue growing this family!!! Get ready for a whole new set of adventures!!!"

Over on Carlos' IG the proud dad made a good point: " This year we will officially be able to say we have 'kids!' Our minds are blown," he write.

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald

In January Counting On Jessa Seewald (formerly Jessa Duggar) announced via Instagram that she is pregnant with her third child with husband Ben Seewald.

We love that she was able to make the announcement in her own time, not worrying about speculation about her midsection. She's been over that for a while.

[Update: January 18, added PenaVega]

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