Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Free Resources for Montessori Infant Education


I stumbled upon an awesome resource for free information about raising infants in the Montessori way. The company is ultimately trying to sell their products, so the information is riddled with side advertisements, but the information is helpful nonetheless.

Here's a snippet of what I learned:

"We know very little about what a baby really experiences during those nine months in the womb, what he senses, feels, intuits, thinks about, and understands. But we do know that he responds to voices and to sounds and to music. So we offer the best by every day spending some quiet time talking to him, singing, and playing beautiful music."
  • I love the idea of spending a few moments of quiet time talking to the baby in utero. I would also love to sing and play beautiful music. What great ways to build a connection and facilitate stress reduction. Next Steps: Make a playlist of good songs specifically for this purpose.
"It is not an accident that the focusing distance of the eyes of a newborn matches exactly the space between his face and that of the mother while nursing. Perhaps the best first communication experiences are provided while nursing the baby."

"We can feed the child's intense interest in language and prepare for later spoken language, by speaking clearly, not using baby talk, by not raising our voice to an unnatural pitch often reserved for speaking to pets, and not oversimplifying language in the presence of the child." "We can tell funny and interesting stories of our lives, recite favorite poems, talk about what we are doing, 'Now I am washing your feet, rubbing each toe to get it really clean' and enjoy ourselves in this important communication. And we can listen: to music, to silence, and to each other."
  • I've read research about how important this kind of communication is with young children. As a teacher, I've seen the benefits that children reap when they are raised in this kind of environment. The point about using baby talk is an interesting one. There's research out there that highlights the benefits of using baby talk. I think I fall on the anti-baby talk side, since I think accurate modeling (although in a simplified, scaffolded way) is a great way to teach something. Next Steps: Pay attention to my use of baby talk (specifically with regard to my dog!), and analyze its function and purpose in my life.
There's other stuff about soothing a crying infant and raising children who do not depend upon adults in order to go to sleep. There's so much to learn! It's all very exciting.



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11 comments:

Sarah said...

These sound great... they also sound like they would enrich the parent just as much as the child, which is really good, too.

Ms Bear Cub said...

You should check out "The Idle Parent" from the library (if possible)! My husband just finished reading it - he says it's his absolute favorite book ever! (not just favorite parenting book ;) ).

Holley said...

wow those sounds like some great tips. I will definitely be checking that out at some point!

Andrea said...

Hey Sara!
I work for an Auditory Development Lab, and we do research on "baby-talk" (well not baby talk per se, but Infant Directed Speech). The overarching theme seems to be that babies like, listen to, and learn from, "singsongy" speech with regular grown-up words. I.e. not saying "googoogaga", but still overemphasizing high and low pitches, saying "i am WASHing your feeeeeet" in a fun, singsongy way. Emphasizing pitch contours and lengthening regular words seems to be a helpful (or at the very least, not bad) thing to do with infants up to at least one year.

Kelsey said...

Sara - I stumbled on a great book at the library that I would highly recommend to you and your readers. It's "Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How our children really learn - and why they need to play more and memorize less" by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Glinkoff. Both authors have PhDs in psychology and the book goes through different aspects of learning such as language and emotions and explains the process for babies learning these things and explains why all this emphasis on getting our babies to read earlier and do math is not a good thing. I have learned a lot and it gives you a lot of food for thought on parenting your baby in a nurturing way - and also helps you realize how babies are programmed to learn and makes you worry less that you need to teach your baby to be smart - they are all born smart!

Kelsey said...

PS The book addresses or at least talks about each of your next step items - what babies experience in the womb, benefits of baby-talk, and reasons behind immediately soothing a baby vs. crying it out. I'm definitely going to have my partner read it before we have kids.

Aamba said...

That is useful stuff! I looked up a while back how much it would cost to send my children to Montossori school or Waldorf (which I went to for pre-school). It's crazy expensive!

Marina said...

I think a lot of this depends on the child. I've spent time with babies who are totally bored by high-pitched "baby talk" and will stare raptly at adults engaged in conversation with each other, and I've spent time with babies who just adore "baby talk" and really light up when it's used.

Sarah said...

I second the Golinkoff and Hirsh-Pasek book - both really awesome and knowledgeable people who have done some really great research in language development!

Little babies use the "babytalk" to separate words from other words and determine where sentences begin and end, so early on it's really helpful to use exaggerated speech. Doesn't need to be crazy sing-songy! In fact, there are actually distinct differences in how adults speak to animals and babies - interesting! So it isn't necessary to talk to babies as if talking to a pup, but it helps to use more pitch changes than when we talk to adults.

:) Good luck!

lisa said...

There is a really neat book out there called Noah's Children: Restoring the Ecology of Childhood. I think that unfortunately, it might be out of print.....

Lindsey and Matt said...

Sara... I have followed your wedding blog...and I had a wedding that was fantastic and simple and budget friendly...thanks to your wedding blog!! Now I stumbled upon your personal blog and I LOVE it!! I was a montessori teacher and I know that it will come out full force in parenting (which I hope to be in your pregnant shoes in a year or so)so I LOVE your blog bringing in the wonderful aspects of montessori into parenting. And how to prepare for and raise your child knowing and seeing the joys of teaching in the montessori world and how much children just bloom in front of your eyes. I cant wait to have that experience with my own kids. And I look forward to reading your blog throughout your pregnant journey trying to piece together being a new mom. Thank you for being so open, honest, and pure with us strangers.... i love it!!

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