Mexican independence day
the hilarity of it all

the questioning

Montessori books
I've had these two books on my bedside table for the past several weeks. Each has something important to offer to parents of young children.

Tim Seldin's How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way is an inviting introduction to Montessori, providing parents with an overview of Montessori philosophy in addition to many practical suggestions for daily life with a child. Tim offers tips for "disciplining" the Montessori way, ideas for a peace table in the home, advice on encouraging independence in personal care, and lots more. Plus, the book reads like one of those yummy craft books we all adore - interspersing great photos within the text. I highly recommend it for any parent, even if you aren't familiar with or interested in Montessori as an educational philosophy.

Montessori From the Start is a bit more "hard core." The book focuses intensely on the child at home, from birth to three years-old. As a prospective mother (hehe!) I've found many ideas within its pages. This is a book that you will underline. Although its layout is bland and it contains only a few black and white photos, it is a gold mine of information on child development and on how best to assist your child through these first years of life.

But I have a confession to make. I have a few strong doubts about some of the advice given in Montessori From the Start. For the most part, I agree with it. Here are my hang-ups:

  • The suggestion that weaning should begin at around six months. I believe we have to look to research which encourages breastfeeding for at least the first year of life. Breastfeeding once a day even after the child has been introduced to solid food should be encouraged, I think. I don't know where this early weaning idea originated, but I think that we do the baby a disservice if we encourage independence over what is natural and healthy. To me, "early weaning" seems like a vestige of an uber-western idea of "educating" a child. Early weaning would never happen here amongst the indigenous population of northern Mexico. I feel that since nature designed functioning mammary glands and willing babies way past the six month mark, then we shouldn't meddle.
  • The general sense the book imparts that, as parents, we need to be perfect. Calm. Always one step ahead. Ahem. We ain't perfect. I just want throw in my two cents for all of you parents out there, doing your best with what every day throws at you. You don't need to be perfect! If anything, the child learns a wonderful lesson from all of your "imperfections." He learns that love transcends imperfections. And that is one valuable lesson!
Sometimes I feel guilty for differing with my "chosen" educational philosophy. Then I hearken back to my own Montessori roots, which instilled in me an independence of thought and encouraged me to always ask "why?" And I feel better. It's so important, within any group, to have a healthy debate on controversial issues. I encourage you to respond with your feelings on the subject, so we can hear many different points of view.

On a different note, I just ordered Joelle's new book, Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts!
The impetus for me?
A Puzzle Ball pattern! The Puzzle Ball is a wonderful developmental toy for a baby who is just beginning to grasp with both hands. The many "handles" of the ball help the child build wrist strength and coordination. Plus, it rolls a very short distance if dropped, thus eliminating frustration of a bouncy ball that rolls hopelessly out of reach. It does roll a bit, however, encouraging the not-yet-crawling child to scoot over and grasp it again. I would give this toy an A+ if I believed in grades and academic competition. But I don't. So I'll give it three thumbs up instead. This would make a GREAT baby gift! I'll be making them for the many (prospective) children in my life!

Wishing you all a pleasant Monday eve,

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