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. We are experimenting with sound journals. Most children are familiar with cassettes and cassette recorders and usually have their own set of favorite music or stories. Provide a child with the opportunity to create a sound journal by giving them a blank cassette (let them decorate the label so they know its theirs) and assist him with the mechanics of a tape recorder. Children can be encouraged to record a story they like to have read to them or a song they like to sing.

Remind them that the sounds of the room they are recording in can be an interesting background: the dog barking, the stereo playing, etc. Doing a sound journal for a certain period of time (the sounds of the new year) or for certain occasion (a birthday present for Grandma) give the child a sense of direction for the taping. Children love hearing their voices and learn from what they choose to record. It's a nice way to preserve the Christmas carols the children learned over the holidays.

2. Children love to hammer nails. One way to assist a child in developing this skill is to have a hammering log. Get a piece of log about 1 foot in diameter and 18" high. Stand it on end. The end cut of a log is soft and makes for easy hammering. Also the fact that there is not a specific place on the wood to set the nail enables the child to focus on hammering rather than placement.

Now that your child knows how to hammer ... it's easy to take this simple skill and create a key holder, utensil organizer, or belt rack. A piece of wood (1" x 1" x 12”) works best for this project. Decide with the child what is going to hang on the rack - this will determine how far apart to place the nails. Mark on the wood where the nails are to be hammered. Let your child hammer the nails in and decorate with tempera paints or markers. Mount onto the end of a shelf unit or inside a cabinet or closet door. Building something that is useful is a great pleasure for a child.

3. Here's a skill for parents ... so you have interesting conversations with your child rather than a yes/no litany. Remind yourself when you converse with your child to start each question with 'who, what, where, when and why'. All interviewers know this is the way to achieve a successful interview: i.e. to get the other person to THINK and then talk. Consider these examples:

"Why did the squirrel chase the bird?" We can THINK of a variety of answers to a question like this.
"Did the squirrel chase the bird?" Yes, no.

"What was the TV show about?" One has to think and then express what they think.
"Did you watch TV tonight?" Yes, no.

Actually this is a very important question. We all watch TV and to enrich that experience, ask your children questions about the show. It will have your child thinking about what he just watched, verbalizing those thoughts, and you thinking about what impression that program made on them.

Be specific.

"What did you do at school today?" "Nothing" is usually the answer.
It's too broad. It's like asking an adult "What did you do with your life today?"

Specific questions:

"Who did you play with on the playground today?"
"Who did you sit next to at lunch?"
"What did you do with your teacher after you came in from outside?"
"What is your favorite morning project?"

Questions with who, what, when, where, and why make a person THINK about their answer, and then answer. Try this and see how it works for you.

4. You probably have heard this nursery rhyme:

1,2,3,4,5, I caught a fish alive. 6,7,8,9,10. I let him go again.
Why did you let him go? Cause he bit my finger so!
Which finger did he bite? The little one on the right.

It is great for teaching beginning numbers and I have found it an excellent way to teach left and right. Pretend you are the fish and after you say the rhyme, gently pinch the little right finger. Ask the child which is the little finger on the right. She will show you the one that was just bit by the fish. If they show you the left, repeat the rhyme and emphasize slightly 'the little one on the right!'

For awhile ask the child which is the finger that was bit by the fish. If she shows you the right finger, reinforce this with "oh, the little one on the right." If not, repeat the rhyme. Quickly and in a fun way she will learn which side of her body is right. Then teach left. Left will not be associated with the sense of touch. The child's tactile memory is strong and she will remember that the touched side is right, the untouched is left.

5. Pink is the color of harmony and peace according to color therapists. It reminds one of the rising and setting suns, the peaceful times of the day. And with this in mind I painted the interior of my home and school - pink. Yet when people look at the walls, they assume that they are white. So the way to get this light pink is to have pure white paint mixed with 2 drops of red tint thus creating the subtlest shade of pink imaginable. It's a lighter pink than shown on most color charts. (A professional painter helped me create this, and I always remember it, for we referred to the Star Wars character, R2D2 – the mix requiring R2 - 2 drops of red tint.) Most white paint is tinted anyway with black, brown or blue to create the different tones of white. I do think it makes a difference.

There have been studies of changing the color in prisons to pink and the incidents of violence went down dramatically. Based on this color therapy information, a major TV station painted all their walls - exterior and interior - pink! (Bright pink on the exterior, and a different shade of pink for every single room.) And their success was due to many factors and the station owner and I like to believe that one reason was all those pink walls. So consider this next time you consider painting and notice the smiles.

6. When one loses a needle or pin, contact, earring etc. and you cannot find it, use a flashlight. Even if it is daytime, the beam of the flashlight will reflect off of the shiny object. And you will see it. Even in the midst of the rug pile an object will be easy to find. We just started our button-sewing project and we could not find the needle just as one of my parents walked in and shared this with me. Eureka! We found the needle.

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


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