Gables Montessori Blog

HEALTHY FOOD FOR YOUR KIDS

Feeding our children is always a priority in our daily planning. We look for fresh, nutritious, and tasty foods for our kids and that’s sometimes a complicated task because the amount of information may be overwhelming. But it is necessary to know that good eating habits are learned in childhood, so a healthy relationship with food must be instilled from an early stage.

Babies up to six months should only be fed with breast milk, after that (4 – 6 months) some fruits and vegetables can be included in the daily diet. The progress from a milk-only diet toward a varied one is gradual and should include foods from all the groups. Proteins, vegetables, fruits, and carbohydrates are necessary for the good functioning of the body of children. You can get into the habit of trying different types of protein with each meal and a couple of different vegetables. Thus you can teach your child to appreciate each flavor and learn to know what he likes or doesn’t.

Proteins are necessary for important functions including growth, brain development, and healthy bones, but carbohydrates are essential too, so both types of food must be included in each meal. In the case of vegetables and fruits you can start with small portions, the size depends on the age and physical activity of the child. You can combine them with dairy products such as milk and yogurt that provide calcium as well as vitamins A and B12 and minerals. Calcium is an essential nutrient for children to develop strong bones and teeth. But prefer natural yogurt, not the sweetened, and add natural flavorings, make sure that your kid gets used to these flavors and thus he will be away from diseases related to the sugar in the blood as diabetes. Sugary pastries and desserts, soft drinks, sweets, biscuits, and others could be eaten only on special occasions, the overconsumption of this ¨snacks¨ is also related to high rates of obesity.

Fats are also important in children´s nutrition but too much of any sort of fat is not recommended. Substances as butter, oils or spreads aid the absorption of vitamins (A, D, E, and K). A special kind of fat, Omega 3 is essential for the human body and can be found in fish, nuts, seeds, and their oils, so these types of products not should be forgotten at the time of doing the shopping in the supermarket or cooking meals.

The following tips or recommendations can be very useful on the topic of the nutrition of your children:

Although cereals can be an easy option for breakfast, read the labels carefully, many contain higher sugar levels. The best is to choose an unsweetened one and combine it with some fruit.

Include some protein in the breakfast such as an egg or yogurt. This meal is really important, it is the first contribution of energy after many hours of sleep.

Children love snacks but sometimes they prefer not healthy ones. Teach your kids to eat fruits when they feel hungry, that is a good habit that will be beneficial throughout life.

Water is preferable to any drink, juices and smoothies are delicious but can contain a lot of fructose and this can result in a ‘sugar high’.

Parents are role models, so eat healthy, exercise, and drink water and your children will learn good habits by imitating you.

Get kids involved in shopping for groceries and preparing their own meals and keep healthy snacks available.

Remember that breakfast is an important meal, but that does not mean eating too much. Combine proteins and carbohydrates properly and offer your kid some fruit, a good breakfast must provide the energy an active kid requires

Family meals are great opportunities to strengthen ties, gather your children around a table, talk to them about their activities and problems and keep them away from phones, computers, or TVs

By eating together you can monitor your kids’ habits and you can also teach by example. Children will observe how you combine the food and the size of the portions you serve, also how to sit and the good manners to eat.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF BROTHERS AND SISTERS

In the past, it was rare to see one-child families. But in the last century, the situation changed for many reasons such as family planning, emotional issues, late marriage, fears over pregnancy or advanced age, and others problems such as divorces, infertility, or death of a parent.  It has become more complicated to support several children and modern society with its rapid growth have done that mothers enter the labor market to collaborate with the familiar budget, and now they have to share their role as workers. Many families have made the decision to have one child and give to him all the opportunities and privileges.

Many theories about the advantages and disadvantages of having no brothers have been published and the opinions vary. For some experts living as an only child is a normal experience but others think that the relationship between brothers is essential for the development of the human being. Both of them have positive and negative aspects that can be analyzed.

Older brothers are excellent partners of games and behavior models, living with the children can learn feelings such as generosity, respect, and companionship.

Fights between brothers are normal situations in a house. In these cases, the parents have to intervene to teach them to control situations and to achieve the comprehension of the needs of each one.

Maybe an advantage of being an only child could be that there is no competition, there is no obligation to test his capabilities, which can create a major sense of independence at the moment of developing his own interests or tastes.

When parents decide to have only one child can follow some recommendations as:

Try to give the child the opportunity to interact with others, not only at school but also in the neighborhood, with relatives, and in activities such as sports practices.

Teach your kids to develop social skills. Many mothers speak instead of their children when they interact with adults or other children which is not the appropriate way. The ideal thing is to give them guidelines of tolerance thus they can learn to set their relationships, be included in playing groups, wait a turn, or accept being excluded or rejected without trauma.

Promote the independence of the child, letting him know that though most of the time he interacts with adults, he can make his own decisions and create moments of entertainment for himself. A parent can promote independency by giving her child some responsibility.

Demonstrate by example how to share, respect a compromise and show consideration for others, also a good technique is rewarding your child if he is being considerate but warning about consequences when he is not.

Set clear boundaries. Children who live with adults may believe they have equal power, so the best is to make boundaries clear and keep some crucial decisions in parent hands.

Teach your children to wait. The only child receives answers to his demands rapidly enough because there are no other brothers on the waiting list. Nevertheless, life is not always like that, let him know that patience is a good gift.

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THE TEACHERS IN THE MONTESSORI SYSTEM

montessori-teacher

The role of teachers in the Montessori system is teaching each child on an individual basis. The method does not impose lessons on anyone, the work is based on guiding and helping each child according to his needs. The guide can not intervene until the child requires it.

María Montessori calls the teacher ¨director¨, and the person has to be internally (spiritually) and externally (methodologically) prepared. This expert should organize the environment to help the child to develop a structured «mind».

Children are plenty of possibilities.  The “director¨ is the responsible person for showing children the way to their development. The director has to believe in the ability of each child to respect the different rhythms of development. This practice allows integrating different types of children in the same group (those who learn slowly with those more advanced). The Montessori´s idea is to let the child feel being able to act without constantly relying on an adult to develop his curiosity and creativeness and learn to think for himself.

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MANUAL LABOUR–THE POTTER’S ART AND BUILDING

For Montessori, manual labour and manual gymnastics are not the same but they are connected. The object of manual gymnastics is to exercise the hand and perfects the individual. In manual labour the focus is to accomplish a determinate work, being, or simulating, a socially useful object, its function is to enrich the world. She considered that to make the children copy anything, direct them to produce useful things or giving them clay to fashion in their own manner served for the study of spontaneous manifestations and not for their education.

Montessori decided to try some exercises accomplished by an artist, Professor Randone in the “School of Educative Art” founded by him. The practice was based on educating youth in gentleness towards the surroundings, that is, in respect for objects, buildings, monuments: a really important part of civil education. Professor Randone created the “School of Educative Art” inspired by a broad artistic conception including the reproduction of objects which are commonly met in the surroundings. One of these objects was the vase, once the glory of Italy and of Florence in the potter’s art.

The importance of the vase is very great. The first food of mankind was cooked in a vase, and also it was a sacred symbol connected with temples in many cultures as the Egyptian, Etruscan and Greek. The history of the vase follows the history of humanity itself. Besides, it is adaptable to every modification of form and susceptible to the most diverse ornamentation. For this special characteristic, Randone choose the vase as a piece for teaching, that can be modified according to the individual inspiration. Another work in the School of Educative Art was the manufacture of diminutive bricks, their baking in the furnace, and the construction of diminutive walls.

These ideas were taken by Montessori as manual training in the “Children’s Houses”. In the case of vases, after two or three lessons the little pupils were already enthusiastic about the construction of clay. In the case of bricks, children found very amusing constructing walls, placing brick on brick, superimposing row on row, to the construction of real houses with the corresponding windows and doors and ornaments in their facades, little tiles manufactured by the children.  Thus the children learned to appreciate the objects and constructions which surround them, while a real manual and artistic labour give them profitable exercise.

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HOW IS THE MONTESSORI EDUCATION?

One of the principles of Montessori education is that school is not the place in which teacher transmits knowledge, but the place where intelligence and the psyche of the child are developed through a free work with specialized training materials. In other words, the classroom is the space in which a child decides what knowledge he wants to achieve and how he wants to do it.

Maria Montessori argued that each individual had to do things for himself, because otherwise he would never learn them. According to her, “an educated person continues learning after hours and years spend in a classroom, because is internally motivated by a natural curiosity, as well as the love of learning”.

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How much food is good for your child?

Babies and young children can be allowed to eat the right amount as long as you only give them access to healthy foods. Babies cry to let us know they are hungry and when they are full they stop eating. Things get complicated at 2 or 3 years when children begin to prefer the taste of certain foods and reject others, in addition to having much variability in how hungry they feel. You may worry that your child eats very little, children tend to eat the same amount of calories every one or two days, but the pattern of calorie consumption may vary from day to day. One day a child could eat a lot at breakfast, a lot at lunch and almost nothing at dinner. The next day, the same child could eat very little at breakfast, but he could eat a lot at lunch and dinner. Do not expect your child to eat the same amount of food at each meal and each snack every day.

What happens if there are bad eating habits? This can lead to low weight or overweight. Poorly fed children have a weaker immune system, which increases their chances of disease. A child’s poor eating habits can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type  2 diabetes or high cholesterol later in life.

Help and support your child’s healthy eating habits as follows:

• Eat together as a family as often as possible. Make family meals a pleasant and positive moment. Avoid making comments about the amount or type of food your child eats. The pressure to eat actually reduces children’s acceptance of new or different foods.

• Choose healthy foods for your family’s meals. Children notice the selections you make and follow their example.

• Make meal times predictable. Eat at approximately the same time every day and always at the table, even for refreshments.

• Have meals often enough (for example, every 3 hours for young children) so your child does not feel very hungry.

• Outside of talking and enjoying time together, do not do anything else during meals: no television or other distractions.

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