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Learning Together Education

My Blog


Toy Rotation and Pick-up

Posted on April 15, 2014 at 2:22 PM Comments comments (241)
  1. At first, the adult picks up everything.
  2. Ideally, the child watches as the adult cleans up. Try not to look as though you are suffering.
  3. Child imitates, and picks up a few toys. Thank them!
  4. Child cleans up as they finish an activity, before moving on to the next.
  5. Enforce using “When-then”(Discipline Toolkit tool #13)
  6. Ideal, never 100%, the child cleans up independently.

It is the adult’s responsibility to provide a manageable number of toys, each with a specific location for storage, perhaps a shelf, basket, tray, box, or bag. If you have never been one for “A place for everything and everything in its place”, now is the time! You must learn this for the good of your child.

Put two-thirds of your family’s toys in storage, out of the child’s reach. The toys should not be reachable or visible to the child, but you should be able to grab a toy quickly when your child isn’t looking. If they haven’t seen a toy for a few weeks or months, it’s like brand new! This is how you can take a shower or make a phone call in relative peace.

Sort through toys and get rid of some. If a toy is broken, missing pieces, or dangerous, throw it out. If its appearance or sound is unattractive, donate it. If it’s outgrown and your child no longer uses it with concentration, give it to or save it for a younger child. If it inspires loud or violent behavior, get rid of it (the television?).

Peaceful Mornings

Posted on August 31, 2011 at 7:54 PM Comments comments (98)
Children in our society are often rushed and ordered around, especially in the mornings.  Parents tell me this is the time they are most likely to become, shall we say, unpleasant with their children.
It is important to consider how mornings are going, because morning sets the tone for the day.   We would like children to arrive at school feeling happy and peaceful, not stressed. Walking in late can be disruptive to child and class, so make an effort to set up an efficient morning routine and avoid running late.
A good morning starts the night before.  Everything that can be done to ease the morning should be.  Some ideas:
  • Tidying up
  • Child packs school bag and/or lunch and places them by the door
  • Check that shoes or boots, coat, snow pants, TWO mittens, hat, etc. are ready.  Provide low coat hooks and manageable storage near the door for these.
  • The child lays out clothing for tomorrow
  • Bath
  • Use the toilet
  • Pajamas
  • Snack and/or drink (if bed wetting is not a problem)
  • Brush teeth
  • Pleasant stories - no monsters or disasters, and no television in the evening. Light from any screen hinders sleep.
Begin the evening routine with the necessities, followed by some pleasant, quiet time together, perhaps reading stories, saying prayers, tucking in, expressing your love for your child.  This could all be done by candlelight. 
Your child should go to bed at approximately the same time each evening to set asleep habit.  Most young children need a bedtime of 7:30 or 8 p.m.  Allow for ten hours of sleep, or more.
Plan an evening routine for yourself also. Prepare for the morning.  Plan eight hours of sleep, or whatever you know you need to feel rested.  This helps you to be pleasant in the morning!
Get up a half-hour before your children so you have time to get yourself ready, uninterrupted.  Then, greet them with a smile!  This sets the tone for a good day. 
Children’s morning routines may include the following:
  • They get up on time, using an alarm. 
  • Make the bed.  Simplify bedding, perhaps using just a duvet.
  • Use the bathroom.
  • Get dressed in the clothing chosen the night before. Provide clothing that children can put on independently.
  • Brush hair
  • When they finish these steps, THEN they may join you for a lovely breakfast.  You have spent the last little while preparing this breakfast, INSTEAD OF nagging your children.  I call this the "Muffin Method". Remember, no nagging. They will know what needs to be done once the routine is established.
  • If they are ready early, then reward them with time spent in an activity they enjoy.  Perhaps they have 20 minutes to play outside before they leave. (Note: Getting outdoors before school aids concentration).
What’s your routine now?  Searching for shoes, laundry, the school bag, car keys…
Easier mornings start THE NIGHT BEFORE.  Do everything you can ahead of time. 
For both morning and night,observe how long it takes your child to get ready INDEPENDENTLY, with no unneeded help from you.  Allow this much time, plus some extra. 
I find that children respond better to nonverbal cues than verbal reminders. Instead of repeating “Time to go!” numerous times, I would just get my jacket and keys, and slowly head for the door, about 10 minutes early.  If a child is not ready and it is time to go, I put a young child in the car “as is” (unless it is dangerously cold).  They might get dressed quickly in the car (they must be buckled before we depart), or at school.  This could be too embarrassing for some children, but it can be a very effective logical consequence.
Once your mornings are running smoothly, you may find you have some extra time.  Enjoy that time together reading a book, playing a game, playing outside, listening to music, or having a conversation…something healthy that your child especially enjoys.  No television before school – it has a sedentary effect on children and adults alike.

Craving Spinach

Posted on January 13, 2011 at 11:12 AM Comments comments (417)
Craving Spinach:
Understanding and Resolving Psychological Reversal
Some years back, sitting in the sun outside a Montessori conference, a young colleague asked how she and her husband should prepare before conceiving their first child.  My answer turned into a long list of “Don’ts”. Don’t smoke, avoid all drugs unless medically necessary, avoid all kinds of toxins, from pesticides to non-stick cookware. Avoid stress because your baby feels what you feel. I recommended that she learn R.A.T. and meditation, and today I would recommend EFT (see resources to follow).
Then I said, “Unfortunately, human beings tend to resist what is good for them, and desire what is bad.”
My friend Susie Shelton-Dodge was sitting among the group. As I recall, her jaw dropped and she turned to look at me. To me, it had been a simple observation of human nature (Susie and her husband David are committed observers), but it really struck Susie, and the encounter stuck with me. Susie is a great thinker, and if something makes an impression on her, I’m going to explore it further.
It’s classic good versus evil.
Most of the time, we want what’s not good for us. We are attracted to the unhealthy, and attract it to us somehow. And somehow, we are not very interested in what’s good for us.
In EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), the attraction to/of bad, and the corresponding avoidance of good is called “Psychological Reversal”.  I like to simplify things for my clients, some of whom are children, and I call it “Batteries in Backwards”. 
With their energy flowing backwards, people do things like argue, hurt themselves and others, sabotage themselves, engage in addictive behavior, get depressed or become evil dictators. I see psychological reversal in children who are aggressive, teens who are dark, and adults who are abusive, often within the same family.
As much as you want to change, willpower won’t work if you have strong psychological reversal. Anyone abandoned some New Year’s resolutions already?
The first step in EFT is to correct psychological reversal. This frees the child or adult to seek and accept what is good.
To me, this looks familiar. It is what Maria Montessori called “normalization”. In an ideal environment, the child is attracted to hard work, gets along with others, and becomes a respectful and contributing member of the group. Montessori called the negative behaviors of a non-normalized child “deviations” or "sin".
It is a sign of health to desire what is good for you, and to find the unhealthy not so attractive.  As I learned EFT, I started craving spinach, and eggs from the local farmer. I would devour a spinach omelet daily for breakfast, but skip the coffee.  Processed food started to look like… not food. It looks like plastic to me.
Some of my clients find themselves attracted to better jobs, healthier people, and real food. Unconsciously, they began to reject abuse and addiction and set healthy boundaries.  Relationships and health improved. Some slept more. Some slept less.  Some earned more.  Some stopped overworking. Some found God. Some stopped judging.
All seem to move toward what is healthy for them right now.
I craved spinach.
R.A.T. is Respiratory Autogenic Training which I teach in the Preparing to Parent class and in prenatal parent coaching. Here is a nice summary:
What’s Going on in There? by Lise Eliot
Farmer Sam, Chicken Herder: