Everyday Ways to Support Your Baby's and Toddler's Early Learning

Learning begins the moment your child enters the world. They learn about themselves, their caregivers, and their surrounding environment. Within the first three years — a critical period — your child will observe and experience lessons and interactions that shape their early learning experiences.

The below areas highlight opportunities to enhance early learning while caring for your child:

  • Language and communication

  • Thinking skills

  • Self-control

  • Self-confidence

The way you communicate with your child shapes future communication skills and interactions. Learn more about these areas, as well as tips and best practices here.

Help Your Child Develop Self-Control

Self-control is defined as the ability to express and cope with strong emotions in a healthy, productive manner. For infants and young children, this may include saying, “I’m mad at you,” rather than hitting or biting a peer or family member. Self-control requires critical thinking skills, an integral part of child development. Young children learn these skills through interactions with others and guidance from parents and caregivers.

Infants are born with little-to-no self-control, but these skills will develop over time! Parents and caregivers can promote self-control by providing supportive and nurturing care. For example, if an infant becomes upset when being changed, the caregiver can communicate with the infant. Saying “I see you’re upset, and we are almost done,” can be meaningful for the baby. This validates the infant’s emotions and assures them their needs will be met.

In the classroom, our teachers and assistant staff demonstrate empathy and self-control when engaging with students. We invite you to read more about how to help your child develop self-control in this article.

Learning to Write and Draw

Children begin developing writing and drawing skills at a young age. An interest in holding and utilizing a writing utensil (such as a crayon) may begin as early as 15 months. From 15 months to three years, a child’s creativity, and in turn, their ability to write and draw, expands.

Writing stems from drawing, so it is important to allow your child the opportunity to draw as soon as they express an interest. At PFM, art is incorporated in all levels of learning — the infant classroom, in addition to the toddler and preschool students, greatly enjoy dedicated art time.

In this article, you can learn the four stages of writing, beginning in infancy. If you have questions about your child’s writing or drawing skills, we welcome your communication!

Coping with Aggression and Teaching Self-Control

Young children, including toddlers, may exhibit seemingly aggressive behaviors. Around 12-18 months of age, children are learning how to separate from their caregiver(s). This can be a stressful time! Additionally, it is a critical point in child development as their language skills expand. While toddlers and young preschool students become increasingly verbal, they may continue to rely on body language—such as hitting or biting—to express stress, anger, sadness, etc.

When working with young children, it is important to remember the specific child’s age when assessing aggressive behavior. For infants—from 0-12 months—it is helpful to redirect unwanted behavior after acknowledging how the infant may feel. For example, if a baby pulls your hair, you can say, “Ouch, that hurts my body.” Then, direct the infant towards something positive they can do with their hands.

This process of redirecting is relevant for toddlers, too. However, you can also provide the child with language surrounding the behavior. A few other tips include: staying calm, recognizing the child’s feelings, offering alternatives, and encouraging the child to take a break. These tips are practiced by PFM staff and can be emulated in the home environment.

For additional information and support, we invite you to read this article. Throughout the month of April, we will host parent-teacher conferences. This is an opportune time to discuss your child’s behavior and how best to support their physical and emotional development.

How to Teach Your Child to Appropriately Get Your Attention

Trying to get someone’s attention can prove difficult, and it can be a frustrating process for both children and adults. As adults, we may choose to tap someone on the shoulder or whisper, “excuse me,” to gain their attention.

As children work to develop language skills, saying “excuse me” to get mom or dad’s attention is not front-of-mind. Instead, they may resort to behaviors that elicit a response or reaction. This could include whining, yelling, or other less-desirable behaviors. (As parents, we’re quick to respond when our child yells, and this is something we work to improve on in the classroom, too.)

A few ways in which we can teach children to appropriately get our attention include:

  1. Model the behavior you’re teaching your child.

  2. Practice, practice, practice! Play with this new skill with your child, family, and school community.

  3. Remind your child of your expectations. For example, you may choose to say, “It looks like you want to tell me something. I’d like to talk to you after you tap me gently on the shoulder.”

  4. Celebrate when your child demonstrates their new skill.

To learn more about how best to support your child’s behavior, we invite you to read the complete article.

Teaching your Child to Be More Patient

Patience is a lifelong skill that can be taught at home and in the Montessori classroom. But how do you teach patience? Preschool students practice patience while waiting for a work to be available, standing in line for snack, or when taking a turn on the playground. However, infants and toddlers can also practice patience!

In this article, you can learn how to s-t-r-e-t-c-h a child’s patience within a short period of time. (Patience “stretching” should not be confused with teasing, as there is a marked difference between the two.) We invite you to utilize timers or count with your child as they wait for your attention, a toy, snack, etc. Start by having your child wait a few seconds, and then, stretch the waiting period by several minutes!

Let's Play: How your Child Learns and Grows Through Play

“When you make time to play each day, you are giving your child a big dose of love and learning.”-Rebecca Parlakian and Sarah MacLaughlin

Play is an important part of learning, particularly for children ages 0-3. It provides an opportunity to learn, fosters creativity, and helps refine fine and gross motor skills. Additionally, play is means through which children can express emotions.

In the Montessori classroom, play is incorporated into much of our practical life work. (Of course, play also takes place organically on the playground.) For example, in the toddler classroom, a basket with kitchen items, such as plates, utensils, and wooden food, emulates the movement and practice of cooking. While the “kitchen work” could be considered play, it familiarizes toddler students with kitchen items while demonstrating what the items are used for.

To learn more about the importance of play, and how you can enhance your child’s play, we invite you to read more.

Public Displays of Disaster: What to do when your child has a meltdown in public

Let’s imagine—you’re at the grocery store. As you enter the checkout line, your child asks for something. When you calmly respond, “No, not right now,” a tantrum ensues. Surely you’re familiar with the tantrum—body on the ground, tears, (loud) words. Public tantrums are stressful for both the child and caregiver. It can be near impossible to reason with or communicate to your child when they’re in this stressed state-of-mind. It can be equally difficult for you to remain calm, particularly when you have an audience.

In this article, experts encourage parents to practice patience, respond positively to potential criticism (received by onlookers), validate your child’s feelings, provide choices you can implement in the moment, and more!