Heart Parenting
& Montessori

To Educate the
Heart and Mind
of the child





Parenting for the future of civilization...

Pointers For Parents

  Presented by Christine Maestri


1. Cross county skiing is a wonderful family sport. Start with inexpensive skis, and if your child enjoys the sport, consider getting a more sophisticated set. One does have to remember that for centuries, people skied on pieces of wood and used branches as poles - even across mountains.

One always begins with the familiar and moves to the unknown. First, ask your child if he knows how to walk. Of course, he will answer 'yes'. Then say, "you know the old saying, if you can walk, you can ski!"

Now to ski. Your first skiing terrain will be the living room rug. (Focus on skis now. Use poles later.) Adjusting bindings indoors is a lot easier, and allows safe maneuvering and gentle falls. Once your child feels comfortable moving about on the skis, demonstrate to your child how to get up from a fall. Lying on your back, stick your feet straight up in the air, roll on your side, sit up, and then stand up.

For your first outdoor skiing suggest to your child a specific distance that you will ski..."Let's ski to the end of the driveway." Let your child pick the next destination, and on and on. He will then be able to proudly recount each of these destinations of his first ski day. He's a skier now! Add poles when and if your child wants to.

And remember the Barnebirkie, the largest cross-country ski event for children in the world happens every year in Hayward, WI. It's the Thursday before the Birkebeiner, which is always the last Saturday in February. The Barnebirkie is free; every child is a winner (non-competitive), there are all skill levels, a gala reception, and beautiful medals. 2,000 children (ages 3-13) are expected this year! Call 1-800-USA-BRKE for more info. Come join the fun!

On a personal note, the happiness is so incredible and so contagious as one sees thousands of children crossing a finish line, smiles beaming as beautiful medals are draped around their neck, parents cheering, cameras flashing, loud speakers calling out winners names, radio and TV covering the event, thousands of cups of hot chocolate and cookies waiting for cold skiers...I never know whether to cheer or cry. Every child should experience this once in their life.

2. A drop of lemon or lime in a glass of water makes a great beverage for adults as well as children. Slice a thin piece of lemon and let your child smell the fruit. Demonstrate how to squeeze a few drops of the juice, watch the water cloud a bit, stir and sip. Another day try lime, another day try lemon lime. In this instance, less is more. A few drops add flavor, many drops add bitterness. Children will enjoy the subtle flavor, the fun of squeezing and the health benefits of more water and Vitamin C in their diet.

3. Children grow up too quickly. The little socks, the favorite t-shirt, the dearly loved dress are long gone. Start now and each year save one item of clothing that your child dearly loves or that embraces a special quality of your child. I know it's nice to share clothing with a dear cousin or a favorite friend, continue to do that, but save that one mitten. In ten or fifteen years, you may end up saving 10 or 15 items. Not a huge amount to save, but some. (I know storage space is always an issue!) Our son is 28 and his little 2 year old t-shirt hangs on a wall on a little wooden hanger as a work of art. And it is a work of art. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I can see so much in that little shirt. You will too.

4. Decorating a rug with a child is a fun project to do. We have decorated entrance rugs, living room and bedroom rugs, cotton and synthetic rugs. Use permanent markers. On one entrance rug, we divided the rug into rectangle sections for each person – a blank canvas for each artist. What a wonderful mosaic that rug was! On a living room rug, I drew a line to create an 8 " border, and each child chose a specific item they would draw and we created a pattern - first, the tree, then the heart, then the hand, then...etc. We repeated the pattern around the edge of the rug. (It was fun creating stories to see how these items were connected.) On a playroom rug, I wrote the letters 'LOVING' 3' high and 4" wide. Each child filled in the letter however they wanted. Our current playroom rug has a 6" heart stenciled every 15" around the edge. The older children drew the stencil and colored in, the younger children colored in the heart. Functional art is so much fun!

5. Consider making photo albums for your children. Children will love looking at THEIR pictures of family and friends; they can be beginning reading books, and are easy to make. From each roll of film, choose 3 to 6 photos. The books should be short and interesting, not overwhelming. Write a single word for young children, and advance the writing for the ability of the child. Put the writing on a page by itself. The next page will have the photo. This way the child will focus on the word, can always peek at the next page for a hint, will read the word and then go on to enjoy the photo. Children tend to like the color red, so write the letters in red. It's interesting to see how much children enjoy these books. We make school photo books throughout the year.

For very young children, use plastic sheet protectors (inexpensive at any office supply store) to protect the photos and writing. They are convenient as they already have a 3-hole punch for easy binding with brass fasteners or pipe cleaners.

6. With all the fun of Valentine Day and Presidents' Birthdays in February, and Easter is a long way off, March stretches out as a long month. But what about Spring's Birthday on March 20th? Plan to have a party for her birthday as simple or as elaborate as you like. For some reason, I like elaborate for spring. Purchase at least one fresh flower for each person that comes. Make flowers, wear flower clothes, practice bird calls, paint a spring mural, have a delightful cake, choose the number of candles for the number of people there, and sing happy birthday to spring. And of course, the presents should be bulbs and seeds for spring planting!

A place to look for fresh flowers in winter is the grocery store. Ask the grocer to let you have the bouquets that are to be discarded. Within every bouquet that is no longer saleable, there are some flowers that are dead, some that still have a beauty of bloom. Sort through the bouquets and share the fresh flowers you find.

Christine Maestri's monthly column has easy to implement ideas for gentle and effective parenting, and lots of fun projects that instruct.


Teaching Values: Uses accelerated learning methods and storytelling. Recommended lists of children's books and videos.

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