Parenting

What’s in a Pumpkin?

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Halloween is right around the corner…

If your family celebrates this holiday, your child is likely thinking about costumes and candy, while you’re probably thinking of ways to keep the evening fun without a total sugar overload.  Whether or not you participate in Halloween, pumpkins are a fun symbol this time of year.  This nostalgic squash can be found everywhere in October, and there are so many fun ways to use them with your children.  Read on for inspiration...

Visiting a Farm

If you have a local farm that grows and sells pumpkins, you are in luck!  Not only is a trip to the local pumpkin patch a traditional autumn activity, it provides kids with an opportunity to learn about the source of pumpkins.  Instead of thinking we just buy them from a store, they will have exposure to the very place that plants the seeds and grows them.  This will offer them a sense of connection and an appreciation for the people and plants involved in the process.  

Life Cycle Learning

While it may be too late to grow your own pumpkin patch, there’s still plenty of time to teach our kids about the life cycle of a pumpkin.  You could have a formal discussion about it, or just ask questions informally while you pick pumpkins, while you carve jack-o-lanterns, or during any other pumpkin activity.  Some ideas:

  • Where do pumpkins come from?

  • How do pumpkins reproduce/make more of themselves?

  • Where do the seeds come from?

  • What color are pumpkin flowers?

  • How do pumpkins grow?

  • What do they/plants need to grow?

  • How long does it take a pumpkin to grow? 

  • What happens when a pumpkin’s life cycle ends?

Check out this free pumpkin life cycle printable booklet if you’re looking for something to make together at home: https://teachingmama.org/pumpkin-life-cycle-booklet-free-printable/

Cooking Up Some Fun

Round up the kids and head to the kitchen!  Cooking with children is fun, gives them a way to contribute to the family, and teaches them valuable life skills that they will hold onto forever.  (Plus you can always sneak some math in!)  Whatever your own personal culinary skill level is, there are options for everyone.

Want to keep it simple?  Hang onto those seeds and roast them for a delicious (and super healthy) snack.  These tiny treats are full of magnesium, fiber, protein, and lots of other beneficial nutrients.  And they couldn’t be easier to make.  Try this recipe for crisp, flavorful seeds - https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/roast-pumpkin-seeds/

Are you a baker?  Skip the canned puree and try your hand at this pumpkin pie from scratch -https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/nancy-fuller/from-scratch-pumpkin-pie-2251073

If your family loves cheesy pasta, this pumpkin and tortellini dish will be a hit - https://www.rd.com/food/recipes-cooking/vegetable-recipes-cheese-tortellini-with-pumpkin-ricotta/

Looking for a recipe that’s way outside the box?  Try pickled pumpkin! https://www.rd.com/food/pumpkin-pickles-recipe/

Sing a Song

“Five Little Pumpkins” is a classic song written by Raffi Cavoukian and Kenneth David Whiteley.  It’s short, sweet, and simple for little ones to memorize.  Below are the lyrics and a link to hear Raffi’s version of the song:

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate

The first one said, “Oh my, it’s getting late.”

The second one said, “There are witches in the air.”

The third one said, “But we don’t care.”

The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run.”

The fifth one said, “I’m ready for some fun!”

Ooooo went the wind and out went the light

And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVJFF6jfAgY

Squeeze in Some Skills

Did you know that in many Montessori classrooms it’s common to have a large stump that children are able to hammer nails into?  This is great practice for motor skills and coordination, but did you know you can put a seasonal spin on it?  Use a large pumpkin, a hammer, and either nails or golf tees to let your 3-6 year old have some fun.  The nails can be taken out and used over and over again, much to the delight of little ones.

For older children, estimation and measurement are skills that can be naturally practiced while enjoying pumpkins.  You might estimate the weight of a pumpkin or how many seeds are inside, then have fun finding out.  More measurement activities could include determining the height, width, or circumference.  Parents can develop real-life math skills by creating oral word problems on the spot.  If there are four people in your family, each person wants to carve a pumpkin, and they cost $6 each, how much will you spend?  And will your child even realize they’re doing multiplication?  Spoiler: as a Montessori child, they probably will realize it, and they will probably love the opportunity to have fun with numbers!

Hopefully we’ve given you plenty of pumpkin inspiration after reading this post!  Before we end, we’ll leave you with a joke that will make the kids chuckle…

Q-What do you call a pretty pumpkin?

A-Gourd-geous!

Montessori and Nature

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“When children come into contact with nature, they reveal their strength.” - Maria Montessori

We all know spending time outdoors is good for our kids, but what did Maria Montessori have to say about it?  What can we do as parents to support our children’s development in the natural world, and what responsibilities do our schools have in regards to this critical work?

Traditional Methods that Fall Short

What do we think of when we imagine educating our children about nature?  Perhaps a small collection of shells on a windowsill, planting flowers in the spring, or pushing a toddler in a stroller through a park come to mind.  While all of these activities have a place and can be enriching in their own way, they fall short of giving children authentic natural experiences.  As adults, we have developed habits that keep our interactions with the natural world at a distance.  We don’t appreciate being stuck out in the rain, or even the sun for that matter.  We find ways to carefully shelter ourselves away from the elements so that we may be safe and comfortable.  We likely developed this perspective while we were still children ourselves, at the urging of adults who didn’t want us to jump in puddles or ruin our best clothes.  Might we step back and reevaluate our own relationship with the natural world?

A collection of shells is lovely, but a child will have internal context if they have actually visited the seashore and collected the shells themselves.  As adults, we love flowers, but children react more strongly to plants they can interact with: think a vegetable garden or even just a tomato plant in a pot.  Taking our children for a stroll in the park is important but let us give them a bit of freedom so they may move at their own pace and on their own feet.  Let them explore and stop to notice the things we so quickly pass by.

Have you ever had a moment - it might have been somewhere on a lake or at the ocean, in the mountains or in the middle of a desert - when an intense, almost indescribable, feeling settled over you?  You noticed that something deep within yourself felt connected to the earth and everything on it.  You probably felt alive and at peace at the same time.  Some of us are lucky enough to have had many of these moments, others, only a few times.  Children have the ability to feel this so much more than we do.  The world is still so fresh and new to them, and natural experiences can have a lasting impact.  

As Dr. Montessori so eloquently stated, “Only poets and little children can feel the fascination of a tiny rivulet of water flowing over pebbles.”  Even when we make efforts to take our children on a walk in the woods, it’s easy for us as adults to focus on the walk or the destination.  Children are fortunate in that they live in the moment.  They see a caterpillar and it calls to their desire to observe.  A small fragment of a fallen leaf is a tiny window into a world they are still discovering.  Children’s wonder and curiosity has much to teach us, if only we can remember to slow down and follow their lead.

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A Burgeoning Movement

While many people have always valued a strong connection to nature, it’s likely fair to say that most of us have experienced at least some level of disconnect.  In recent years, however, more and more people seem to be looking for ways to rebuild those connections.  We participate in community supported agriculture, hobby farms, and keep chickens in our backyards.  We vacation in national parks, participate in hiking challenges, and take up kayaking.  

We know that something is missing, and while we don’t always articulate it, we are searching for our way back to nature.  

Could it be that our children have the ability to both inspire and teach us the way?  If we let them slow down and notice the little things - the insects, the toads, the way the sunlight reflects off a shiny rock - maybe we can learn to slow down and notice them, too.  If we start by considering how we would like our children to eat as healthy as possible, maybe it might lead us to visiting farms or growing our own food (with our kids, of course!) 

Practical Ideas

Montessori suggests that it is not the act of going out into a garden that leaves an impression upon a child, but the whole approach of ‘living naturally’.  From Japanese ‘forest bathing’ to Norwegian ‘friluftsliv’, cultures around the world have known the importance of our connection to nature for centuries.  Scientists echo these ideas, reaffirming the notion that spending time outdoors and surrounded by elements of the natural world is good for us.

So what can we do to apply this knowledge?

Montessori classrooms work to apply natural living on a daily basis.  Nature is frequently brought into the classroom in the form of live plants and animals that the children help care for.  Even the materials themselves are made of natural materials; plastic is avoided whenever possible.  Ideally, a classroom has access to the outdoors so that children may come and go as the space calls to them (and as is appropriate). 

As parents, the easiest way to let our children live more natural lives is to lead by example.  We can find ways to enjoy the outdoors on a regular basis, in all seasons.  Explore the parks, trails, nature preserves, and bodies of water near your home.  It can be fun to take up new hobbies together as a family, or to find other like-minded families that you can team up with.  Whether you like adventure, taking it easy, or something in between, there are outdoor activities that will put you back in touch with the world around you.

Already love the outdoors?  Find ways to make what you love accessible to your kids.  Ready to head out for the first time (or the first time in a long time)?  Here’s one great resource to get you started: https://www.alltrails.com  

Enjoy, and let us know about your adventures!

5 Time Savers for Your Morning Routine

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The slow, easy pace of summer is rapidly drawing to a close.  Everyone tends to have mixed feelings about going back to school; the prospect of seeing friends, learning, and getting back into the regular routine are all enticing, but the loss of the magic of summer can be tough.  How can we, as parents, make the switch easier on everyone (including ourselves)?  By focusing on making our mornings run smoothly we set a positive tone for the rest of the day.  Check out these 5 great time savers to make the sleepiest time of day just a little bit easier.

1. Meal Plan

Thinking ahead when it comes to meals is one of the most impactful steps you can take to start the day off right.  Think quick and healthy breakfasts, lunches you can make days ahead of time, and ways to make dinner prep simple when everyone gets home after a long day.

Breakfast 

Overnight Oats are a nutritious and simple option.  Using the measurements listed on a container of steel cut oats, bring the water to a boil and cook for just 5 minutes.  Cover, remove from heat, and place the whole pot in the fridge overnight (perhaps with a potholder or trivet underneath).  In the morning everyone can stir in their favorites: berries, apples, bananas, walnuts, honey, cinnamon - the possibilities are endless!  The oatmeal keeps well in the fridge for a few days, so go ahead and make a big batch!

Not-So-Green Smoothies can be prepared several weeks in advance.  Line up your freezer containers on the counter and distribute the following among them in whatever amounts you prefer: spinach, mixed frozen berries (these tend to turn the smoothie purplish), sliced apple, and banana (optional).  In the morning, place the frozen contents in the blender, add some water, and blend until smooth.

Lunch

Making lunches the night before might be one of the most helpful things you can do for your morning routine.  Looking for more ways to simplify?

  • Cut up an assortment of vegetables Sunday night that can be used throughout the week.
  • Keep it simple - lunches don’t need to be fancy to be delicious!
  • Sandwiches are key: find out what your kids like and keep it coming!
  • Have older children help pack their own lunches.

Dinner

Many families find that a little planning on the weekend makes the whole week feel easier.  Ask your family for input, then decide what dinners you’d like to make throughout the week.  Grocery shop on Saturday or Sunday and prep whatever you can before Monday (chopping vegetables, shredding cheese, etc.)

Does it ever seem like generating recipes is the most tedious step?  Basic meal schedules can help.  Having a basic plan with room for variation makes the whole process so much simpler.  Use the following as inspiration:

Mondays: Pasta (pesto, ravioli, primavera…)

Tuesdays: Tacos (soft, crunchy, chicken, tofu…)

Wednesdays: Breakfast for dinner (pancakes, scrambled eggs, crepes…)

Thursdays: Leftovers

Fridays: Pizza (homemade or takeout!)

2. Check the Weather

This tip is quick and straightforward.  Don’t get caught scrambling to find rain boots or sweatshirts on your way out the door.  Having a general idea about predicted temperatures and precipitation is useful information to have when getting ready for the day ahead.

3. Getting Clothing in Order

As Montessori parents we like to give our children choices.  It’s important for them to have a say in what they will wear to school, partly because it allows them to express their individuality, but also so they can practice learning what is appropriate for the season.  Try having your child select and lay out their clothes the night before for a speedy morning routine.  Better yet - lay out a week’s worth at a time!  One easy way to organize this process is to buy small removable hooks (Command-style) and place them somewhere out of the way - like behind a bedroom door.  Five hooks (with a hanger on each) can display five outfits, making getting ready for school fun and easy.

4. Establish a Routine

Create a morning routine and stick to it.  This makes the days predictable for kids, which makes it easier for them to know what’s expected and to get things done.  For example, your child could wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth, put their lunch in their bag, and put on their shoes.  By keeping steps the same and in the same order, the process (eventually) becomes second nature.  Figure out what works for you, and then try not to vary it too much.

5. Create Reminders

We all need reminders when we’re getting used to a new routine or just because we’re tired.  For older children it’s a simple as making a written list on a sticky note and hanging it somewhere noticeable like the bathroom mirror or refrigerator door.  For younger kids it’s best to have a picture list.  You don’t need to be an artist to sketch out simple images layered in an order that will serve as a reminder.  Bonus: have your child color the pictures so they’re more attached and more likely to refer back to it.

May your transition back to school be joyful, peaceful, and an exciting time for everyone.  See you soon!

7 Back-To-School Essentials

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As much as no one likes to admit it, summer is quickly winding down.  The exciting part is thinking about back to school preparations.  While the real fun begins in the classroom, there are some things parents can do to set their children (and themselves) up for success.  Read on to find out how you can get ready...

1. Soak up every last drop of summer

Go stargazing.  Take a long bike ride.  Eat just one more s’more.  Find as many ways as you can to enjoy every moment you have left of summer together.  Is there anything you talked about doing that you hadn’t gotten around to yet?  Do the kids have any fun requests that you can manage before the school year begins?  Think day trips, lazy days together at home, projects you want to finish, or even some more leisurely trips to the library.  Think about what makes everyone feel happy and content, then do some more of it.

2. Start to adjust bedtimes

Between longer periods of sunlight and looser schedules, staying up late often becomes the norm during summer months.  While this works out just fine for that particular part of the year, it doesn’t work well when it’s time to wake up and catch the bus.  The first thing you may want to do is revisit how much sleep your child should be getting.  

Here are some more tips to get back on track with ease:

  • Allow 2-3 weeks for the transition
  • Keep things calm for an hour before bedtime
  • Slowly shift bedtime earlier by 5-15 minutes each night
  • Keep a consistent routine (example: pjs, brush teeth, story, lights out)
  • Expect bumps along the road - it’s okay!

3. Gather supplies

Many schools have lists of supplies needed at the beginning of each school year.  Check in with your school and keep in mind that different classrooms often have different lists.  It takes a lot to keep a classroom running smoothly; when each family chips in, it really helps make the task a little easier for teachers.  

Think beyond classroom supplies as well.  What will your child need?  Do they have a lunchbox that is in good working order?  Cloth napkins?  Snack containers?  A water bottle?  What else might they need to start the year off right?  It’s important to remember that children don’t need new everything each fall - quality items last for years!

4. Inventory clothing

Kids have a funny habit of growing all the time.  The transition between summer and autumn is the perfect opportunity to check and make sure they have enough of the right clothing.  Has your child grown a size over the summer?  Is the changing weather a factor?

One great way to stay ahead of kids’ clothing needs is to share with others.  Because children grow so fast they only wear items for a short period of time.  It makes sense to pass outgrown clothing along to siblings or another family who could use it.  Hopefully you can find a family who is willing to do the same for you.  By sharing hand-me-downs, parents can save time and money, leaving you a little extra to buy your child a nicer pair of shoes or a good warm winter jacket.  As a bonus, sharing clothing is also a great environmental choice!

5. Keep reading

Reading to our children every day is so important.  Hopefully you’ve been able to enjoy lots of story time all summer long.  Don’t let the rush of a new school year end the fun!  Aim for at least 20-30 minutes each day.  Bedtime tends to be a natural fit, but reading anytime is beneficial.  Infants, preschoolers, new readers, and even older children enjoy being read aloud to.  Hearing you read sets and example for them regarding the importance of books and literacy, and your voice serves as a great model for oral fluency.  Use dramatic expression, create silly voices for characters, and have fun! 

Older children should spend time reading each day as well.  They can read to themselves, you, a sibling, or even a pet.  Practice makes perfect!  One helpful tip for new/reluctant readers: try setting a pattern of ‘you read a page (or sentence or paragraph), I read a page’.  This gives them the practice they need without it feeling overwhelming.

6. Set goals

Everyone in the family can get on board with this step.  Parents: what are your goals?  Do you want to find ways to not feel so rushed getting out the door in the morning?  Do you want to try out some new meal prep ideas to make the week run more smoothly?  Do you want to find opportunities to volunteer at your child’s school this year?  Think about what you hope for and break it down into small, measurable, steps.

Talk with your kids about the hopes and dreams for the upcoming school year.  What are some things they hope to learn about or accomplish?  This might include specific academic skills, but it might also include social goals or even play-based fun.  Does your child want to learn how to write their name in cursive?  Get across the monkey bars?  Make some new friends?  Learn more about frogs?  It can be fun to have them draw a picture of their goals and write (or have you scribe) what they hope to do.  Tuck the paper away in a drawer and take it out again in June.  It can be so fun for children to reflect on their own growth!

Think of ways you can support each other with your goals and talk about that.

7. Get excited!

Feel free to hype up the beginning of the school year.  Transitions can be hard for kids, but it’s always easier when they’re excited about what’s to come.  A new school year brings the promise of fun learning, friendships, and experiences.  That’s something we can all look forward to.

Service to Others: Instilling Values Early

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Have you ever thought about finding ways to get your kids involved in community service?  Many families think it’s a great idea, but it can be hard to figure out exactly what to do.  Especially when it comes to our kids - we want to make sure we find an activity that is age-appropriate, safe, and helps them feel a deeper connection to others.

If you have found a way to make this work, great!  We hope you can share you experience in a way that encourages others to do the same.  If you wish you could but want some practical ideas, read on.  Even our youngest children can pitch in to make the world a better place.

Hunger

Communities across the country work hard to provide food to those who simply don’t have enough.  Food banks and soup kitchens are always looking for donations.  This is one simple way families can make a difference.  Some tips to make it even easier (and more helpful):

  • Call your local food bank or visit their website to see what donations they are most in need of.
  • When you go grocery shopping, grab an extra box of pasta, can of vegetables, or bag of dried beans.  
  • Organize a food drive in your school or business.  All it takes is an empty cardboard box and a sign.  Once the box is full, take a drive to your local donation center to drop it off.
  • Give your kids some guidelines and let them help choose items to buy.  For example, let them pick which can of vegetables or what shape of pasta they think a family in need might enjoy.

Homelessness

While it’s not always so obvious in rural or suburban areas, those living in urban communities likely notice homeless people in and around their cities.  One simple way you can help the homeless is to create small care packages, and it’s an activity that appeals to children as young as 3 or 4.  Simply purchase quart or gallon sized zip bags and fill them with any number of useful items.  Some ideas:

  • Granola or energy bars
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Travel-sized first aid kits
  • Travel-sized toiletries
  • Small package of tissues
  • Bottles of water
  • Crackers
  • Chapstick
  • Wet wipes
  • multivitamins

Have your kids help assemble care packages assembly-line style.  Keep a stash of them in your car for whenever you see someone in need.  There’s a good chance your kids will be in the backseat when you do, and the act of reaching out to help others will make a lasting impression on them.

Elders

Elder care facilities are a great place for children of all ages to make a difference.  Call your local nursing home and find out what works best for them.  Just being there to say hi to residents can make a huge difference to elders and children alike.  One simple idea is to bring some basic coloring supplies along.  Children who love to sing may also want to share that talent.  You don’t need to bring anything at all, but flowers or children’s artwork will always be welcome.

Remember to talk to you children ahead of time to give them an idea of what to expect.  It’s also a good idea to talk to them after the visit to find out how they felt about the experience.  Who knows - you may make some new friends!

Animals

Your local animal shelter is full of hard-working men and women who do a lot, often without enough resources.  Much like collecting food for hungry people, it’s easy to collect and donate supplies for animals, too.  Be sure to contact the shelter and find out what supplies will be useful.  Children of all ages can help choose what to donate and visit the shelter for drop-off.

Animal shelters are often in search of volunteers.  While this wouldn’t be appropriate for young children, find out what ages are welcome - it’s typically 16 and up.

The Earth

Why wait for Earth Day to help our planet?  This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to be of service, because it starts in your home with simple lessons every day.  Talk to you kids and get them involved in a wide range of topics:

  • Reducing, reusing, and recycling
  • Mindful food choices
  • Water conservation
  • Finding ways to reduce energy consumption
  • Read about endangered animals and how we can help

One final idea

Many older children across the country are skipping gifts at their birthday parties in favor of something more altruistic.  While this shouldn’t be forced upon a child, it’s certainly a nice trend to see!  

Finding ways to give back to your community with your kids should be a fun, rewarding, and memorable experience.  When we teach our children to help, we are nurturing values that will serve them and others for a lifetime.

Living Montessori in the Summer

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If you’re reading this, you’re either:

  1. Sending your child to a Montessori school and totally dedicated to the philosophy, or
  2. Very curious about whether Montessori might be a good fit for your family.

Either way, you can create a Montessori-style summer that will either continue the experience, or give you a chance to try it out.

Maria Montessori cared deeply about honoring human development.  From the materials she created to the environments they are placed in to the delivery of the model, great attention is paid to the specific developmental phase a child is in.  You can do the same, simply and with just a little forethought...

Keeping your child’s needs in mind

So what exactly did Montessori have to say about the different stages of development?  Here’s a very quick rundown:

Infants and toddlers: Children in the earliest years are making great strides in development of movement and spoken language.  Though they will seek some level of independence, they still need quite a bit of support and lots of nurturing.  Children of this age display a strong preference for order.

3-6 year olds: The sense of order continues in this stage.  Primary-aged children want to do things for themselves, often literally saying, “I can do it!”  We try to let them, and modify their environment to make this possible.  It is also a time of huge growth in language, sensory refinement, early reading, writing, and math.  Children tend to work beside their peers, but independently.

6-12 year olds: The strong sense of order tends to disappear around this time, and is replaced by an emphasis on justice and social development.  Children at this age care very much about friendships and spend much of their time figuring out how to resolve conflicts together.  They are inspired by storytelling, science, history, and geography.  They continue to make great strides in the core academic areas.  They want to think for themselves.

Adolescents: Montessori recognized that adolescents are trying to balance their need for independence from adults, while still requiring quite a bit of support from them.  Increasing their responsibilities and providing them with challenges helps them work through this time.  This is a great time to start teaching children the skills they will need to master when they are finally ready to set out on their own.

Consider the routine

Routine is helpful for most humans, important for children, and critical for young children.  While vacations and daily activities will certainly mix up any routine, it’s a good idea to establish one anyway.  Routines give children consistency, which makes them feel safe.  It reduces behavioral issues and gives children the freedom to explore their world and take safe risks.  Consider the following:

  • What does your child need to do each day upon waking?  Depending upon their age, what can you do to support their independence in this area?  A toddler may have a floor bed so that they may physically rise on their own, while a six-year-old might be responsible for getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and preparing their breakfast.
  • What can your children do during the day (especially on days when there are no specific plans)?  Is there a bookcase containing age-appropriate books?  Are toys, games, puzzles, and art supplies organized and accessible?  Do your children feel free to explore these things independently, and have the knowledge and sense of responsibility to clean up when they are done?
  • Do your children have independent access to snacks and water?  Allowing them to listen to their bodies and self-identify those needs is a precious gift.  
  • Depending upon age, might your children help prepare meals?
  • Is there a balance between active time and quiet time?  Between togetherness and independence?
  • Just as it’s important to have a morning wake-up routine, consider what type of routine you want to establish for bed-time.  Though this might vary a bit from the regular school year, it’s still helpful to keep it consistent.

Integrate academics

This is totally possible to do without evoking moans and groans.  First of all, most Montessori children delight in academics.  Secondly, it can be done in short, effective bursts.  Some ideas:

  • Read daily.  Read to them, have them read to you, to each other, to themselves.
  • Find math in everyday life and talk about it.  The kitchen, shopping, driving - the possibilities for real-world word problems are endless.
  • Spend 5 minutes a day on math facts.  Make it fun with sidewalk chalk, silly songs, jump roping, or dry erase markers on the living room window.
  • Explore!  Dig into science, history, and geography by visiting local museums, parks, and landmarks.  Encourage their curiosities and research more together.
  • Older children can journal their experiences.  This is especially effective with a fancy notebook and pencil.

“Going Out”

A hallmark of the Montessori elementary years is “going out”, or small groups of children organizing and executing a field trip to further their individual interests.  Are your kids into dinosaurs?  See if there are any nearby fossil sights or museum exhibits.  Do they love sea creatures?  Check out an aquarium or visit the beach to explore tide pools.  They key is to listen to your children and let their interests guide the trip.  

Embracing nature

People simply feel better when they spend time in nature.  Ideally, we should all get out there at least a little bit each day.  If you live in a place adjacent to a natural area - say a body of water or forest - then this should be easy.  But even in urban areas there are options.  Does your family have a favorite park?  Does your city have a botanical garden or arboretum?  Is it possible to drive a short distance to more natural areas?

Keep your child’s developmental phase in mind when planning outdoor experiences.  It can be easy to get excited about a hike only to find out little legs can’t make it as far as you thought.  Build in breaks, bring snacks, and take lots of pictures!

Making time for the arts

It’s fun, easy, and important to build art into your summer plans.  Children can both appreciate the art of others and create work of their own.

It’s likely that your local community has more art on display than you may realize.  Search for not only museums, but galleries, sculptures, and street art such as murals.  Older children can have fun making art scavenger hunts for younger siblings.  

Drawing might be inspired by art they see, their outdoor adventures, or even tiny plants and creatures in your own backyard.  It can also be fun to participate in a daily sketchbook challenge such as this one: https://tinkerlab.com/july-sketchbook-challenge/ .

Other art possibilities are endless.  For infants and toddlers, it can be as simple as giving them a paintbrush, cup of water, and a smooth rock warmed in the sun.  They can paint the water on it, watch it disappear as it dries, and repeat for as long as the activity holds their interest.  Older children may want to experiment with a wide variety of medium.  Think pastels, watercolor, clay, collage, or charcoal.  Let them experiment and find new ways to use the materials.

Hopefully this post gives you some ideas for blending Montessori with summer home life.  Let us know how it goes!