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Montessori at home: 7 ways to teach your children to be problem solvers

It can be scary to think about, but the truth is we have no idea what the world will look like when our children grow up. But that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare them.


We can help them develop life skills that will serve them no matter what the future holds. One of the best skills you can work with your child on is problem solving.

Children encounter tons of “little” problems each day—each of them a possible moment for exploration and creativity! Remember that though the problems seem little to us, they can be big deals for kids. A puzzle that can’t be solved often elicits that “I CAN’T DO IT!” frustrated cry that we all know well.

Here are seven things to try when your little one encounters a problem:

1. Name the problem

As a teacher of young children, I’ve often seen children get so upset that they’re in tears, but they can’t tell you why. Sometimes we need to help a child identify the problem before she can see a solution.

For example, a little girl was working with water in the classroom and had a big spill. She burst into tears and threw her scrub brush across the room. In a situation like this, I might say, “You seem upset about that big spill. That’s a lot of water to clean up. What should we do first?”

Naming the specific problem makes it seem smaller and asking a leading question helps her figure out what to do next.

Try this at home next time you hear the familiar refrain of “I can’t do it!” For example, if your child is struggling with his shoes, try, “You can’t get your shoe on because the Velcro is closed. What could we do to make it easier?”

2. Answer with a question

Sometimes it seems like a child asks a thousand questions in a single day. Curiosity is a beautiful thing, but you don’t always have to give the answer. Try throwing a question back at him sometimes instead.

In the classroom, if a child asks why he has to wear shoes on the playground, I might ask him how his bare feet would feel in the gravel. If he asks why he has to stop playing and eat lunch, I might ask how he would feel that afternoon if he didn’t eat anything.

This strategy can work for bigger questions too. If your child comes home upset and asks how to get her best friend to stop being mad at her, help her brainstorm some ideas herself. Ask leading questions and write her answers down to show their importance.

3. Provide resources before answers

More than ever before, we have the answers to many of children’s questions at our fingertips. Why is the sky blue? No problem, let me Google that for you.

But in answering these questions so easily, we may be forgetting to show children how to find their own answers.

If a child at school asked me what lions eat, I would help him find a book about lions rather than just telling him. If you don’t have the necessary resource at home, you could visit the library, or simply involve your child in the research process on the computer.

Instead of quickly Googling on your phone, sit down together and talk to him about what you’re searching for and how you’re choosing a reliable site to read.

4. Set the right level of challenge

At school, we are constantly introducing children to things that are just out of their reach. We want the work to be challenging, but not impossible.

If I give a counting lesson to a child who is ready for addition, she would be bored, but if I give her a lesson on multiplication, she would likely get frustrated and discouraged.

Watch your child and give her opportunities for challenging tasks at home. That might be a puzzle with a few more pieces than she’s used to or buttoning her own jacket. Be there for support, but let her struggle with it too.

5. Embrace open-ended play

In a Montessori classroom, there is a full array of materials designed to allow a child to explore, hypothesize and test his theories, and figure out how the world works.

The truth is, though, you don’t need any special materials at home. All you need is to encourage open-ended play.

Playing with blocks or playing in the backyard offers all of the problem-solving opportunities your child will need. If he wants to build a tower taller than he is and runs out of blocks, what can he use instead? Let him figure it out. If he’s playing super heroes in the backyard and needs a shield, what can he use? Let him figure it out.

This is problem solving in action and the skills he learns in play will transfer over to academic skills.

6. Focus on effort

As a teacher, I would never say, “You got the right answer in all of your equations!” But I might say, “You concentrated on your math for a long time and finished three equations.” Focusing on the child’s effort, rather than results, encourages him to try challenging things.

Try this at home by offering encouragement after your child struggles. If he tries to build a new Lego set and can’t quite do it, you could say something like, “That’s a really tricky one. You worked really hard on that. Maybe we can try again tomorrow.”

7. Slow down and step back

One comment I’ve heard many times as a teacher is, “I didn’t know he could do that, he never does that at home!” This could be referring to putting on his own shoes, packing up his own lunch, or cleaning up spilled juice.

Children do things independently at school because they’re expected to, but also because we don’t jump in to help right away.

I might get a towel and ask a child if he’d like help with a spill, but I would not swoop in and do the whole thing for him, even if he’s upset—that would be robbing him of the sense of accomplishment he’ll feel when he helps solve the problem.

Next time your child is struggling at home, try starting with the minimum amount of support and increase as necessary. The goal is to walk the line between doing everything for a child and letting him get so frustrated he doesn’t want to try.

Try these tricks at home to help your child build his identity as a problem solver. Confidence and the willingness to try go a long way.

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If you thought the arrival of your baby meant the end of fun, urban vacations, think again. With the right planning (and the right equipment), it's still possible to get up and go with your little ones on every adventure. That's why we love BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One, a soft, supportive baby carrier that's as comfortable for your baby as it is on your back.

And New York City is one of our favorite places to take it for a ride.

We partnered with NYC mama Neha Leela Ruch of MotherUntitled to share her favorite Big Apple hot spots for littles. If you and your family are headed East on your next vacation, here are the places you can't miss with kids.

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Neha with her family at the Union Square Greenmarket.

The Union Square Greenmarket

You'll love the ready availability of locally grown produce and handmade goods―your kids will love sampling the wares and taking advantage of all the conveniently located activities nearby. "I love the efficiency of the location on a slow morning!" Ruch says. After shopping, hit up the nearby playground, visit the Barnes and Noble kids' area across the street, or head to Union Square Play for a movement or dance class to burn off any remaining energy.

LeFrak Center at Lakeside

Another attraction worth the subway ride out of Manhattan is the LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park. With year-round skating (ice in winter, roller in summer), a splash pad in the summer, and all of Prospect Park surrounding for more exploration, there's something to keep everyone entertained no matter when you visit.

The Seaglass Carousel
Have your camera ready for this stunning ride in the Battery Conservancy. Unlike a traditional carousel, the Seaglass moves riders on four turntables as LED light fixtures mimic the bioluminescence found under the sea. Take a ride before taking in the waterside views or having a picnic in Battery Park.

SEE

Neha out and about in NYC with her BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One.

Domino Park

One of the newest parks in NYC, this Brooklyn-based hangout is sure to become a fast favorite of locals and travelers alike. The reclaimed-material playground teaches kids about the sugar refining process with silos and chutes designed to resemble the actual factory that used to reside on the park's location. There's also a Fog Bridge, sports fields, fountains, a dog park (in case Rover is along for the trip!), and more you can walk and explore with your little one in their BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One.

Central Park + Central Park Zoo

While there are plenty of reasons to visit Central Park on your New York City vacation, the convenience might be one of the biggest. Ruch says, "We grab coffee and treats from the Tavern on the Green to-go stand, walk east to the pretty carousel, and then onward to the zoo, which has a little kids' petting section for the smallest babies but also a pretty significant proper zoo with penguins, seals and bears."

Allbee Baby

With a nearly 100 year old story, this family operated business on New York's Upper West Side is the place to stop if you need something mid-trip. With a thoughtful curation of the best brands, it's full of solutions for parents and kids (as well as a selection of products from BabyBjörn)!

EAT

Maman Café

Need a quick pick-me-up? Maman Cafe is a popular spot for your favorite coffee and a snack. "There are a handful of locations around the city, but each has a pretty feel while still being warm and welcoming," Ruch says. "It's an elegant part of the day even when I have two littles in tow." Snag an iced coffee and an almond croissant before popping your baby back in their BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One and heading off on your next adventure.

by CHLOE.

And when that moment comes in the midst of every trip where you realize everyone needs to eat something nutritious, by CHLOE is a great stop to find healthy options to satisfy everyone in the family. Vegan, plant-based, and all natural, it will keep you energized for the rest of your adventures in the City That Never Sleeps. (Make sure to try the avocado toast!)


Making the time to explore is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family―and yourself. And thanks to BabyBjörn, now everyone can come along for the ride.

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

Sometimes inspiration just strikes.

Diana, our Motherly Experts Editor, had a moment just like that. The result was magic. "I was tucking my middle guy in, and he was all toddler-perfect... lost in a sea of blankets, so cute and little, and I just had this moment of, "wow, one day he is going to be a grown up, and someone else is going to love him..." And the rest is history :)" These poignant moments of motherhood touch the heart in immeasurable ways...balh able bla

After the tears have dried, this unique story, inspired by the overflow of love in a mother's heart, stays with you for a loooong time and is bound to resonate in your heart fas long as a mother's love remains for her child, long after they've left home. That's motherly. And, that's Motherly.

"To the person who falls in love with my son" went viral.

This video, more than the sum of its parts, has provided an overall experience that has transcended its concept, writing, execution, quality of craft—and heart.

• It has been viewed 26,387,039 times.


• It has reached 58,287,532 people.


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This video elevates what is in plain sight to something timeless, universal, and memorable. Bound to live in the heart of anyone who views it, this video is destined for legend in the parenting community online. Our innovative strategy, tactics and creativity combine to succeed at truly engaging our community.

Motherly not only has over 3X the engagement of competitors in the parenting space but also across women's interest and lifestyle categories.

FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS VS. ENGAGEMENT RATE

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With a clean and direct design aesthetic, our content does not get lost in the overload that is so endemic to other brands. Our unique sense of honesty and our authentic and emotional content connect with our community of engaged Millennial moms across channels to deliver results that empower and inspire. Through the powerful lens of motherhood, our content generates mom-to-mom sharing and valuable conversation, unlike any other brand.




Meet Motherly.
We are a community–driven lifestyle brand redefining motherhood. Motherly occupies a unique position in the media landscape, sitting at the intersection of parenting, lifestyle and women's interests to address her entire life and connect her more fully.

At Motherly we have a voice.

We are the only positive, encouraging parenting site reaching and influencing Millennial moms when they are looking for and absorbing more information, products and services than during any other life transition. How we think, act, and express ourselves is why we have built such a strong community of mamas.

Our community engages across all platforms, at Motherly, on Instagram and on Facebook, because mamas are on the move.

Motherly supports mamas through their entire parenthood journey, delivering women-centric content that addresses her whole lifestyle through thousands of articles, images, videos and classes each month with Mom-to-mom insights, inspiration and empowerment.

Our innovative strategy, tactics and creativity combine to succeed at truly engaging our community.

With a clean and direct design aesthetic, our content does not get lost in the overload that is so endemic to other brands. Our approach to content and how it is presented crosses all platforms for a cohesive and truly branded aesthetic that is fresh, clear and direct, always light and enlightening.

With a unique sense of honesty, our authentic and emotional content connects with our community of engaged Millennial moms across channels to deliver results that empower and inspire. Through the powerful lens of motherhood, our content generates mom-to-mom sharing and valuable conversation, unlike any other brand.

Motherly not only has over 3X the engagement of competitors in the parenting space but also across women's interest and lifestyle categories.


FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS VS. ENGAGEMENT RATE

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Sources: Facebook Analytics 2018


The synergy of our compelling content, pure aesthetic and fully engaged community has afforded us staggering fan growth.

In October, 2017, we doubled down on our engagement strategy to reach our community with our innovative approach to content and realized a stunning fan growth of 442% over the following twelve months.



That "something" extra...

Through our social presence—encompassing concept, creativity, content, structure, visual design, functionality and interactivity—women are encouraged and have the confidence to know, "I've got this". As savvy, digital natives, Millennial mamas take Motherly everywhere for information, inspiration, and empowerment—we are the brand that helps her redefine what it means to be motherly, every day.

Vacationing with a baby isn't for the faint of heart. But while it typically means more luggage (hello, travel-friendly bassinets, clothes for all seasons, and more diapers than you can shake a boarding pass at!), it's still possible to have a fun, memorable adventure with your little ones―especially with the right equipment.

Our favorite family vacation saver? The right baby carrier, like BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One Air. The breathable, mesh design is perfect for a variety of climates, while the supportive construction will help you stay comfortable while you trek across your favorite destination.

One of our favorite family-friendly locales? Los Angeles. That's why we teamed up with LA mama extraordinaire Magin Birrenkott to share the best places to play in La-La Land when you have little ones in tow.

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La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
Perfect for your little dinosaur lovers, the famous Tar Pits and art museum feature something for everyone. Take the tar pit tour to learn more about excavation, or simply let the little ones run around the park to see the variety of sculptures. The museum features a Fossil Lab, atrium, and even a 3D theater to learn more. "You can have lunch and play on the grassy areas around the tar pits and fossil areas, as well as grab a coffee and stroll through the different art exhibits around the park," Birrenkott recommends.

Kidspace Children's Museum
Who says vacation can't also be educational? This incredible children's museum helps your little ones learn about everything from physics to biology―all through the power of play. Babies can face out in the Baby Carrier One so they'll have plenty to look at while staying snuggled up to you. Bigger kids will love experiencing the indoor and outdoor exhibits. Note: Several attractions feature water play, so pack a spare outfit for any kids who like to get messy.

Magin navigating a day out in LA with two little people and one free hand, thanks to the BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One Air.

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Lions, tigers, bears...and more! The LA Zoo is home to a variety of animals from around the world―all of which your kiddos will love to admire. The bird show and giraffe feedings are especially popular hits. "Make sure to plan the short trek to the giraffes between 11:00-12:00 and 2:30-3:30. For $5 you get three branches and are able to feed them up close and personal!" Birrenkott says.

Move your little one to your back in the Baby Carrior One Air so they can get close to the action too. "We like to go at the very beginning since they can get full and sometimes walk away if there were too many people in front of you." After letting the kids run out their energy in the zoo, the Botanical Gardens make the perfect spot to relax and have lunch. "There's a beautiful grassy area that's quiet where you can set a blanket and enjoy the beautiful LA weather. And for us struggling tired mamas, there's a coffee shop that has the most amazing lattes and cappuccinos. Huge win."

SEE

The El Capitan Theatre

More than just a must-see on your tour of Hollywood, the El Capitan Theatre is an excellent spot for family memories. There are "Tiny Tot Tuesdays" for families with younger children (AKA, no one will give you a dirty look if your kiddo wants to sing along...or just throws a tantrum mid-show), and all of the family-friendly movies feature something extra, whether it's live Disney cast members, gift bags, or extra effects like confetti. Check the website to find out what is showing during your trip.

Aquarium of the Pacific
If your kids are fans of Finding Dory, they're going to love the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. With everything from penguins to sea otters to sharks (not to mention millions of fish in every shape, size, color), there's something to catch the eye of everyone in your family. The aquarium also features seasonal festivals and events, so check the calendar during your visit to make sure you don't miss their best shows. As for your littlest family members, they'll enjoy a comfy ride through the aquarium in their carrier.

"Our weather is all over the place sometimes, but in the BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One Air, he didn't get sweaty at all!" Birrenkott says. "Plus, after two days of activities, my back is in one piece. I can babywear him all the time now!"

Traveling Tikes
Forget something at home? Traveling Tikes on Santa Monica Boulevard is the perfect spot to scoop up any baby gear that didn't make it into your suitcase―including the BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One Air for easier travel around town. One other store we love? KIDSLAND on Wilshire Boulevard.


Making the time to explore is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family―and yourself. And thanks to BabyBjörn, now everyone can come along for the ride.

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

If there's anything better than dressing your kids up in adorable holiday outfits, it's gotta be matching them.

We rounded up seven of our favorite looks for this season. 🎁

1. Classic Christmas for kids

Go crisp, clean, classic and Christmassy with a Short Sleeve Smocked Holiday Dress from Feltman Brothers.

Short Sleeve Smocked Holiday Dress, Feltman Brothers, $67.95

BUY

Classic Christmas made modern for mama

Match your cotton cutie in a crisp and modern shirtdress that can last you far beyond Christmas.

Kowtow Monologue Shirt Dress, Garmentory, $93.00

BUY

2. Nordic-themed sweater set

Get cozy + complimentary with black and red family sweaters that you can wear all winter long.

Oh Sno Happy Christmas Collection, Hanna Andersson, $68 - $92

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3. Matchy matchy mommy

A super-affordable option for the matchy matchy mama.

Emmababy Mommy and Me Matching Plaid Long Sleeve Shirt Dress + Princess Tulle Tutu Dress, $14.99

BUY

4. Mommy + me tutus

Tutus make everything, including the holidays, a bit more magical. Grab a matching set to enjoy a twirl with your girl.

Mommy and Me Tulle Tutus, Etsy, $110.00

BUY

5. The perfect plaid dress

Quick! This one is perfect, grab it fast.

Ruffle Trim Babydoll Dress for Toddler Girls, Old Navy, $20.00

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Mama's plaid

Mama deserves ruffles and plaid, too.

Relaxed Plaid Twill Classic Shirt, $24.00, Old Navy

BUY

6. Best sweater set yet

Moms and sons can play match-up, too. Grab a sweater set you can return to the entire season.

Festivewear Sweater Sets, Boden, $55.00-$130.00

BUY

7. Big blue

Light up the night with Santa's sleigh and a sleek little number for mama.

Festive Big Applique Dress, Boden, $48.00

BUY

Blue for you, too

The perfect LBD (little blue dress).

Flippy Pencil Dress, Boden, $170.00

BUY

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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