Saturday, November 8, 2014

MONTESSORI FOR BABIES: How to raise an emotionally balanced baby.

“The baby’s fundamental need – precisely because he is a human being – is to be loved. But it takes a mature person to love a baby, because love takes time, love takes patience, love takes fortitude, love even requires a certain kind of humility: to love another better than one’s self. The baby needs time to be understood: he needs time in everything he does.”

-by Dr. Herbert Ratner, editor of Child and Family, to the American Montessori Society in 1963.

Dr. Ratner urged his listeners, who are mostly parents, not to misunderstand Montessori as
being a faddish status symbol, with the vague goal of speeding up a child’s intellectual development. Though academic development is an important part of the Montessori method, it is the baby’s emotional development that should be the most important to all parents.

Maria Montessori identified four areas of infant development referred to as the ‘sensitive periods’. By preparing an environment in which babies can begin to safely explore these four needs to grow, the parent is acting with great love and wisdom and hence, is fostering a strong sense of emotional well-being in their child.

1) Sensitive Period for Movement
Babies are constantly testing out their limbs, their reflexes and gross motor skills. From birth to 12 months, this joyous exploration of the body’s power progresses from control of the hands and feet, self-support of the head, hand-eye coordination and the miracle of crawling (and even walking for some babies!) all come into play in the first year of life.

 Holding his Papa's shirt tightly // Sucking his own little thumb (which he does 24/7 :D)

Montessori teaches that the parents’ main responsibility in all this activity is to make sure that babies are not being restrained either by their clothing or by furnishings like cots or playpens. Soft, cotton clothing that enables free range of the limbs is best. Moreover, parents need to baby-proof the environment so that the baby is able to move about in certain areas of the house.

2) Sensitive Period for Sensory Perception
An infant’s perception of sound, sight, touch, taste and smell is extremely acute. Keeping the environment calm and quiet, keeping manufactured/commercial colourful toys to a minimum, and giving priority to a newborns’ most important connection to their parents is the key.

As babies begin to take interest in a wider range of things, less is still more. In the house, a few chosen toys, a few picture-books and/or a comfortable soft blanket will be plenty for small babies to explore. Outside, a single flowering plant is akin to a whole garden to a baby. According to Montessori, parents are to follow their babies’ expressions of interest in new sensory experiences and to go at their pace. Getting to observe and share in a baby’s gradual discovery of the physical world is one of the joys of the first year of parenting.

Papa and baby Nathan <3
3) Sensitive Period for Language
Babies find themselves in a world of sounds and often, their greatest interest is in the sounds of speech coming from their parents. :) Infants intently watch the mouths of the people around them and begin moving their own lips in imitation. Soon, they'll begin to explore their own ability to create different kinds of sounds and develop syllables that they will repeat over and over, trying to perfect the control of their throat, tongue and lips.

Telling us all about his day...or sort of. Haha.
According to Montessori, it’s crucial that parents spend plenty of time talking to baby, one-on-one. Being part of the conversation helps infants feel that they are part of the family – valued members of the household.

4) Sensitive Period for Order
To explain this concept simply, newborns start to gain a feeling of security by making sense of all of the things they perceive in their surroundings, be this people or furnishings. Their own place in the scheme of things feels safe when they wake up from a nap and discover that everything is in its rightful location. Even adding a new picture to an infant’s wall can cause him to feel unsettled and scared– the world is in disorder! Obviously, some changes are necessary, but most changes in the environment should be made with thoughtful care.

If an infant becomes suddenly discontented or fussy and no explanation is obvious, it’s a good idea to look around to see if something has changed in the room that could be causing distress. As the baby starts to crawl, it’s time to start teaching the idea of everything having a dedicated place in the household.

In Conclusion
Dr. Montessori believed that these four special sensitive periods were the most important from birth to five years of age. An extraordinary amount of development takes place in the first year of life, both for the growing baby and the parents who are striving to fulfill their baby’s needs. By implementing and taking into consideration these four sensitive periods, our babies emotional development will be more balanced and well-taken care of. :)

Have a good weekend! :)

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