Harper will be my last grandchild. At 20 months old, the world of language opened its floodgates. She's actually quite verbal for her age. At her 18-month check-up, the pediatrician asked if she had a vocabulary of at least three words. At that point she probably had close to one-hundred words, and now, a few months later, it's more than doubled with her talking in two, and three-word sentences on a regular basis.
This becomes a double-edged sword because, when young children are this verbal, we tend to confuse vocabulary with comprehension. This can lead to frustration and fits of some temper and crying. In some, it may also manifest as a biting phase.
When Harper can't do something on her own, she'll plaintively call to me and say, "Help, help
Someone wise once told me that the best guidance she could give to me was, to provide me with a toolbox of skills to help me navigate my way. I've never forgotten that piece of sage advice, and have tried to hold back that overwhelming urge to rush in and solve all the little things challenging my grandchildren.
me, Gammie.'' While my heart goes out to her, the best help can offer is to give her time to figure something out on her own. Of course, it's important to first make sure she's safe from
whatever she's trying to manage. Sometimes, It works to ask her simple questions to figure out how she can be guided to work through her own situation. This is not always easy, because parents are busy, and often they do not have the luxury of extra time, and let's face it, we all reach our limits on certain days with patience.
Someone wise once told me that the best guidance she could give to me was to provide me with a toolbox of skills to help me navigate my way. I've never forgotten that piece of sage advice and have tried co hold back that overwhelming urge to rush in and solve all the little things challenging my grandchildren. I try to consciously hold myself back from doing that and, instead, help them use the tools in their boxes to solve their own problems. I must continually remind myself that it's not about me, but about fostering the child's independence.
It's not about my 'wants' to keep them small and dependent upon me, but to make sure they become confident and independent.
Another 'tool' in the box is the ability to master a skill. Have you ever seen your child, or grandchild sit and repeat doing something endlessly? Have they ever asked you to repeat a story over and over again? While it can often become tiresome for the adult, it's the way children learn and master a skill. In their classrooms, children are given the time, especially during the uninterrupted work cycle of two to three hours in the morning, when most are at their best, to repeat an activity over and over again.
lt's fine to make suggestions, question, or even demonstrate, but when we do something for them each and every time they ask, we aren't helping them reach their full potential. Dr.
Montessori's Method and materials help toddlers and young children learn from concrete to abstract. Each part of the practical Life lessons adds new tools to their personal boxes.
By reinforcing this method at home (or at grandparents' houses) on a consistent basis, it helps keep young children on the path to independence. Remember, holding your grandchild on your lap to read, pushing them in a stroller, and comforting and loving them with hugs and kisses, is more vital than rushing in to do something for them that they are totally capable of doing for themselves. Enjoy each moment. It's just amazing how fast grow up!
Margot Garfield-Anderson is on staff at the Montessori
Foundation and the Membership
Director of the International Montessori
Council. Her four granddaughters have
often been the inspiration of her writings.
To view the adorable videos that
accompany this article, please check out
it's digital counterpart on montessori.org
32 TOMORROW'S CHILD ® • SEPTEMBER 2017 • WWW.MONTESSORI.ORG