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Items (pre-lit and miscellaneous)


Things Inge likes:

  • Ducks (birds) /de eenden en de vogels
  • closing doors, and cabinets.
  • soap bars
  • running water. Pouring.
  • bicycle rides


Saw a glimmer in my children that I believe I should explore…

Quin: for beginning to recognize words better. She can also be regular and persistent – went about with her rag trying to clean everywhere. Then when there was nothing else she went for the windows.

Inge: Try her on some character flash cards perhaps. Observe.

Knox: Does not need to write whole page of characters (about 12 words) to establish recognition of characters. Acts distracted and tired by word 3. But careful with stroke order and wrote most beautiful 牛 (koe)。


Night before Muiderslot Castle visit (2nd attempt). Knox: “We can knock on walls and find the secret passage!”

K points to sky: “Look at those clouds! They’re like millions and billions of sheep!”

This morning, Mike presenting Inge: “Now she (doesn’t cry and scream but) just knocks on the door.”

Inge weaning: Willing to accept when I say no more neh-neh. Pulls my face to kiss her. Went over to pat and comfort Knox who was hurt. Carries stuffed animals into her bed after being rejected from breast and cuddles them.

Eats less messily and no longer eats soap.

At Amstel Park:

  1. Inge stares longingly at kids on merry-go-round. After a long second of staring, points and says 旺旺!(for dog, one of the ride figurines was a bulldog)
  2. Inge sees children feeding goats with grass pulled from ground. Immediately pulls up a fistful of grass (2 pitiful blades sticking out of her tiny fist) and presents to goats. Startles away giggling when the goat gets too close globbering. Goat is uninterested in her meagre offering but keeps on trying. But, I am amazed at her instant comprehension of the situation upon first sight (feeding goats with grass) and action.

Quin tries to read to Inge once in a while.

Knox reads to Inge ditto. He has lost word-for-word instant memory upon hearing story. Sign of leaving the absorbent mind? (for him, Quin never exhibited verbatim memory.)


Knox seems to find blending slightly less arduous. I must proceed with caution here, yet try to capture his developmental windows. His Mandarin word recognition is very good. But he is recognizing many words he finds difficult to write. I believe Mandarin cannot be taught in the same order Montessori English & Italian is taught (writing before word recognition). He is much more ready with responses when I pause during reading. Sometimes he guesses… but I do think he actually looks at the words (because sometimes it is not possible to guess) and reads. There appear to be some inconsistencies in what he can read. Same difficulties with those same 注音letters? Investigate and rectify.

Quin is becoming more stable. Less outbursts. I need to watch myself with this one and how I react emotionally where it is not warranted. Kindness and generous love will not breed entitlement in this child who blossoms and has always a strength and serenity in her when she feel secure and loved.

Inge can now fetch and return many books that she wants read to her. And asks for repeats. It is tiresome but I want her to get as much as her siblings got. And her sweetness makes up for it. I know I will not get anything back from them though we invest. Every moment spent investing in them is something we don’t invest in ourselves. It is a wonder. Examining the mechanisms of our drive to nurture, yet it does not spoil the drive. Just that, when I am in the flow of pleasurable work can be very hard to change track to child. But we have always been individuals who valued our time to plot & ponder. So perhaps 3 children 24/7 is indeed our limit.



蒙特梭利國小環境的三個工具 Montessori Elementary 3 Essential Tools

These are notes I took while reading this article:  for the purpose of sharing with Mandarin reading friends in Taiwan who are interested in how Montessori functions at the elementary level. For the English version of these notes, please scroll down to the bottom. or just read her excellent article! : )


#1. 紀錄本


  • 孩子得到的演示
  • 孩子自由選擇的工作


  • 之後的計畫
  • 孩子對於某個指定學習項目的心得


  • 日期、時間(某個工作)、工作/演示名稱、結束時間
  • 休息時間如何運用
  • 選擇性的塗鴉



  1. 一開始是老師手作的精美記錄本,只有足夠一週紀錄的。
  2. 一個(美國經典黑白)筆記本 composition style notebook,可以讓孩子自己裝飾。這應該由孩子來購買,賦予孩子對本子有責任感。


  • 監督(檢查記錄本):可以每天用一種友善、幽默的態度去檢查記錄本,讓孩子知道這很重要。
  • 老師應該以身作則,自己有用一本記錄本。


  • 你最有意思的工作是什麼?
  • 最具挑戰的工作是什麼?
  • 你今天有什麼發現嗎?
  • 你在X時候在什麼?
  • 你今天跟朋友做了什麼工作?
  • 你最後一個(生物)工作是什麼?



#2. 社會的期待



  • 社會的期待應該被整理成一個讓孩子可以懂的形式。
  • 如任何其他工作一樣跟孩子做演示(每年小組演示)。在適當的時機提起。如:『對於社會期待你能在年底前了解的分數工作,現在做的怎麼樣啊?』



  • 給正確的孩子種下足夠的責任種子。
  • 工具主要是由孩子來監督的。



  • 幫助我們的自由有架構
  • 對探索有一些指引的方向
  • 幫助緩和家長的疑慮

#3 與孩子開會 


  1. 日常的:規律的檢查紀錄本、跟孩子交集。孩子可能不會意識到這是開會,不過老師對於這些都應該要做紀錄。
  2. 正式的:每兩個禮拜做一次,有著清楚地先前預期(要做什麼)和開會的時間有公佈


  • 檢視記錄本並討論學生的時間運用
  • 全觀完成且進行中的工作
  • 孩子是否有責任的運用他所得到的自由呢?
  • 工作是否是期待的品質?
  • 孩子是否有探索了環境的各領域?還是只有在最喜歡的領域?
  • 有哪些示範有帶給孩子了(同儕和老師)?
  • 對社會的期待很重要的課程,孩子是否有效跟進?
  • 孩子有負責任的選擇嗎?


開會後,老師一定要再跟進follow up(孩子是否有執行)!



Reading notes on The Three Essential Tools, by Melinda Nielson

#1. The Journal

Introducing children to The Journal is the 1st great lesson given to children on their 1st day of class. It is an account of how the child spent his/her day, including:

  • Lessons that were given to child
  • Freely chosen work.

Not for recording:

  • Planning ahead
  • child’s feelings about an assigned topic

CONTENTS of The Journal:

  • date, time (of certain work), name of work/lesson, end time.
  • How downtime is spent
  • illustrations (optional)

Goals: “specify, clarify, quantify, & beautify”.

Suggestions for how the journal is made:

  1. Initially a teacher made booklet with just enough pages for a week at a time. Beautifully bound.
  2. a composition style bound book (can be decorated by child) This should be purchased by child to embrace responsibility.

Teacher’s responsibility:

  • Monitor (check journals): can check in daily in a kind, humorous way just to let the child know it is important.
  • Teacher should set an example by keeping a journal too!

Questions that can be asked to community (children):

  • What was your most interesting work?
  • What was your most challenging work? or, What did you find challenging?
  • What did you discover today?
  • What were you doing at X time?
  • What work did you do with a friend today?
  • What was the last work done with (biology)?

Montessori: “Recognize the child as an individual, and the children as a group.”

Make journaling a part of the community culture. Help each other who have difficulty with this responsibility.

#2. Societal Expectations

These are local and national curriculum…etc.

Societal Expectations should be considered as a tool to assist child is self-construction; evaluate themselves.

Teacher’s work:

  • These expectations should be synthesized and rewritten in a form accessible to the child.
  • Offered to child as any piece of material is (present to small groups yearly). Make reference at opportune/appropriate times. ie: “How are you doing with that fraction work society expects you to know by the end of this year?”

As a community, the confident leaders will enable the younger members to self-evaluate with this tool.

Teacher’s work:

  • Plant enough seeds of responsibility to the right children
  • tool will essentially be monitored by children

Important: Societal Expectations should not detract from Cosmic Education!

Instead, we use Societal Expectations as a tool:

  • Helps provide structure to freedom
  • offers guidance to explorations
  • ease parental anxieties

#3 Meeting with Child

There are 2 types of meeting that are conducted regularly:

  1. CASUAL : regular journal check, check-in conversations, children may not be aware that these are meetings but teachers should record all of these.
  2. FORMAL: done every two weeks with  – Clear Prior Expectations & – Schedule posted of meetings

The Agenda of Formal Meetings

  • Scrutinize work journal and consider student’s time use
  • Overview of completed & in-progress endeavors
  • Is child responsible for freedom given?
  • Is work of expected quality?
  • Has child explored all areas of environment, or just favorite?
  • What lessons have been given to child (by peers & teacher)?
  • Has child followed up appropriately on lessons that are essential to Societal Expectations?
  • Has child made responsible choices?

Work is quickly reviewed, always listening to child’s self-evaluation.


Personal thoughts:

This rather reminds me of productivity planning, and some of my husband’s management strategies that he shares with me time-to-time based on his corporate experience.

蒙特梭利 活動注音盒 可列印

為了孩子用Livable Montessori 的連結做了活動英文 printable small moveable alphabet之後,因為沒有找到可列印的活動注音,所以在這裡做了檔案,有兩個版本。放在網路上給需要的人使用(按version字可到下載的google drive連結)。

Version 1 / Version 2:

兩個版本差異在字型。因為在看Livable Learning 英文的 printable small moveable alphabet 時讓阿諾選了他喜歡的字體,想說若做中文注音,也可以有選擇。

這個活動注音盒主要用來拼字,對於前置語言建構已經有一定基礎,且還無法寫注音,不過會認單注音(可以用砂紙注音板 or 其他)讀拼一起的注音,的孩子可以開始嘗試的活動。可以用一寫小物品,或圖卡,先做兩個注音、且ㄧ的拼音練習。一開始為了能維持孩子的興趣,用玩玩,鼓勵的心態,是不糾正錯誤的喔!如果孩子沒興趣,可能時機不對,可能帶領的方式提不起興趣…多方權衡一下。


  • 砂紙注音製作:四個中文媽媽在聖地牙哥的部落格大方分享的檔案, 這個可列印版本是鏡像的,也貼心的做得很省紙!貼砂紙背面剪比較方便。據說要用3M砂紙240號或者油漆行正常砂紙180號,沙子才夠細緻,適合幼嫩的小手描摩。這個砂紙注音,可做起頭音或尾音的小物件盒(剛開始一次擺出最多介紹/擺出兩、三個!不要擺出太多!孩子往往因為太多選擇而反爾不去碰。)砂紙注音我還沒有做,但已經看定用紙博館的藝術色卡,是硬的且色澤飽和,但不是塑膠的所以可能無法忍受風吹日曬。不過我覺得觸感上質感好。
  • 大的活動注音盒Caroll Wang 有推薦這個磁鐵的。我其實很希望找的原木且沒有磁鐵的(可以自己漆的那種),不過磁鐵的好處是可以在垂直面上操作,而幼兒很多有垂直面操作(繪畫,Michaelangelo躺著畫天花板)的肢體需求。(看完這個webinar: Building Fine Motor Skills 才發現幼兒出現“畫牆壁”這樣的行為時,不能說動機是『調皮』,可能身體上有這樣的需求,可以考慮在牆壁上貼紙滿足)
  • 小活動注音盒(就是我提供的檔案)我是用key way 40 格的(格子可以自己活動調整,超方便!)我個人覺得家庭用的用厚一點的卡紙印就好了,畢竟不是開學校好幾屆的學生要用,沒有必要去裱褙。沒有塑膠的重量,至少卡紙比起裱褙來說也比較不滑。


2017 Jan 21st Knox playing with the home-made small moveable alphabet 阿諾玩英文活動拼音盒:

edit: 感謝文婷老師指點,檔案少了ㄗㄘㄙ,還有自己沒有搞懂一聲,已補上。

I think I know some underachieving verbally gifted children…

Just came across this helpful article to considering motivation for some children in classroom management/design, shared by the Ultimate Montessori Parents Guide:
Signs of verbally gifted children: higher competency in language than peers, easily acquire language, good ear for sound of languages, good at manipulating symbols (letters), can often be heard ‘playing’ with language. – making jokes with language, experimenting with sound (making nonsense sounds), getting rhymes and poetry quickly…etc.
    Aside from this, very young children also have a sensitive period (Montessori) for language that makes it easier for them to absorb languages.
Takeaways from that article:
   1. Verbally gifted children tend to be holistic learners – they want to see the big picture (why should I learn this?) before getting details esp. cosmic education>
2. Because of need for holistic learning and challenge, tend to see rote memorization as pointless. This will present as saying something is ‘hard’ when they mean that something is ‘boring and uncomfortable to learn – tedious’ (not necessarily beyond the child’s capability, as we adults would define the word ‘hard’).
3. For the sake of challenge (to stay interested), these children will often choose difficult tasks over easy ones at the risk of getting a lower grade. Thus presenting with underachievement.
4. Tend to want to be able to be in charge of their own learning (intrinsically motivated)
     Note: being verbally gifted is only one aspect of a child so one verbally gifted child will appear different in temperament and other capabilities than another child. Something I have noticed about gifted children is that their learning often appears asymmetrical – this includes not being very good at certain things, can sometimes present with behavioral issues (due to asymmetry), and does not necessarily follow learning scope & sequence because some things are ahead of others (such as Montessori found that children can often write before they can read. A gifted child may be ready to learn reading before they are able to write, due to under-developed fine motor that is related to their focused interest on non-fine motor related areas.)
     For example, today I noticed a child in the class I am teaching practice at who, for an almost 4 year old, is showing pretty good mastery of the moveable mandarin alphabet (bopomo), compared to peers. I do not think he has enough control for writing yet but he is definitely good at blending. This is one of the children (most of them tend to be boys!) who at various other times can present with behavioral challenges. Could this because he is undershooting in certain areas? Something to find out!
     Another child I know who I realize is verbally gifted (Has high attention span for being read to compared to peers. Can memorize picture book dialogue upon first being read to. Will make puns with words. Easily find and fills in gaps when reading things that rhyme, likes to find new ways of doing things) – keeps complaining and avoiding language work, will dither when working with language. I believe this is because the way these particular language works are presented with limited scope, and the children have been constrained not to use them in a spontaneous way. However, to teachers to follow clear scope & sequence, this child can seem to have ‘not yet mastered’ more basic concepts, and so can be held back because teachers want them to finish one step successfully before moving on to another. While the child is one who seeks novelty and challenge.
     So I think for this child : 1.material for earlier steps needs to be regularly refreshed so child will be interested in working with ‘old’ concepts in new ways. 2. Occasional bridge work (forays) into more advanced work should be used, and allowed, but not to the point that child is introduced too early and frustrated. 3. Sometimes it is okay to experiment so child can see value of earlier work as foundation. 4. Freedom and opportunity for initiative should be allowed. The need for creativity can be satisfied with other materials/activities if purposeful use needs to be maintained for certain materials.

     It is possible for Montessori schools and teachers to accommodate for the needs of gifted children because the inherent philosophical learning environment design allows individualization. However, it is also possible for Montessori teachers to miss these positive aspects and potentialities of a child’s learning. So I really love all these new studies coming to the fore that explore differentiated learning needs!

shame and growth for the young child – some reflections

I found this in my notebook from September 28th, 2016. I felt this was a good summary (if you can call it that, ha.) of the information I had been accumulating at that time and my synthesis of it regarding creating a positive environment.

In retrospect, I had been a bit harder on Quin due to our experience with her brother. In all fairness, her brother had had more of his needs satisfied as he went from 2 y/o to 3 y/o as, in my hopes of staving off jealousy of his baby sister (Quin), our daily activities were centered around His needs, whilst Quin was largely along for the ride. I was still relatively inexperienced back then with the 2nd child, and as a SAHM, barely having time to myself for reflection, my growth was not as well-rounded as I might have hoped.

I am considering this today due to an observation for assignment that I had conducted, hoping to identify the cause of Quin’s exclusion when a girl who had just turned five comes over to play. In my search concerning the social development of children I came across these passages from Tina Bruce, Carolyn Meggit and J Grenier’s 2010 Child Care and Education:

From 2 to 3 years

  • The child quickly become frustrated – for example, when something does not go well. The child needs a great deal of support from adults (…)

We had speculated that Quin’s personality was coming to the fore when she started throwing tantrums shortly after age two. She was previously a fussy baby but I understood it to be due to indigestion, if not colic, that settled down prior to age one. Often the tantrums were over things perceived out of order, but more often it appeared to be over doing things that she had previously been capable of doing, if not of trying. This was frustrating for me, for I felt that to do things for her would spoil her for doing things for herself. I see now that I had not accessed more specific information regarding her development, for the same textbook mentions:

From 1 to 2 years

  • The toddler loves to do things for him or herself.

As Quin had not yet developed much social interest before, she was content to attempt things driven by her inner guide (Montessori). However, at age two, in between the development of social awareness and drive for independence / autonomy came an awareness of her need for assistance. And when I insisted that she try for herself, she would have a melt down. In retrospect, I feel that I could have been more immediately helpful, as these past few months I have discovered the beautiful side of her personality when we are more supportive of her emotional needs.

This discovery was preceded by a change in my own approach, which (sad to say) came not from the natural maturation of my parenting abilities, but from a crisis in our relationship that arose from MY mistaken approach to her. In this situation, Quin had been, for half a year at least, not wetting her bed and what we considered potty-trained. The bed-wetting then started again. We had her go to potty before bedtime and placed the potty close to her room so she might access it in the night if she needed. We reminded, reasoned and remonstrated. To no avail. The atmosphere in our home was becoming toxic.

And then I read about a Taiwanese mother’s experience with her son’s poop situation, and her detailed use of the Kazdin method. I started preparatory work to apply this method (explain and send reference to husband, buy book on kindle and start reading…) and in my approach I started to change my attitude towards the accidents. We got training pants and when she had an accident we did not emotionally react to the situation, but tried to be supportive. “You can do better next time.”

It particularly struck me at this time how she would : 1. Pretend that it hadn’t happened and insist that it was not wet. 2. Later on, in the process of recovery, look at us very sadly and with some fear when she discovered that she had wet her bed again.

For 1. I realized that it was a protective mechanism. She was lying because she wished it were not true. Having read the article about children and lies beforehand, I understood that children (prior to about 5 or 6 years old, when they begin to be able to fantasize), are not capable of willfully lying. What we thought were lies were actually wishes, and often responses to environmental pressures that they were incapable of resolving. I was sorry that I had put my daughter into such a situation where she had to deny reality in order to cope.

For 2. I saw that she felt shame for having peed her pants. For young children, shame is always an emotion that arises from social referencing – they are learning what is considered unacceptable (lower status behavior) from the reaction of others. While it serves useful for their socialization, our experience proved that it did not help her control her bed wetting. Only served to demoralize her.

Shame is now known as a less effective emotion for behavioral change (growth), particularly for young children. The attendant pressure from shame promotes cortisol, which is shown to inhibit the establishment of neural connections. In converse, dopamine is shown to be effective in helping neural plasticity, which is the ability for the mind to change – learning! It is therefore true that happy children learn best.

While it is possible for some behavioral changes to occur through shame, it is usually more possible through individuals who have better control of themselves, and have a social interest in the matter (ex: teenagers want to fit in). But such a change comes at a cost, a social cost – in giving the individual a sense of inferiority, which predisposes the individual to later ‘bullying’ others in oblique or overt ways in order to regain a sense of self-esteem.

I personally believe shame as an incentive also has costs in preventing someone to fulfill their full potential in development and learning, so that the individual presents with an inferior sensibility. I am inclined to believe this in my observation of cultures (or meta-cultures within larger cultures, such as individual family units) where shame is used as the main tool to inspire behavioral change. The children present as disoriented, or lacking initiative, often frivolous and inefficient, and appear to express below the intellectual capacity of their age group.

When such is removed, the rebound is impressive for young children, as I had observed when I changed my own reaction to Quin’s bed-wetting. Being more neutral concerning the situation, and positively noticing times when she showed behaviors we approved of. It was amazing how, when we stopped noticing it and instead bolstered her self-esteem by noticing her other capabilities, how much she blossomed! She became more vocal, lively, and within two weeks had stopped wetting the bed! Without my even implementing the Kazdin rewards chart system! (which, btw to all behaviorists out there, is meant to be applied ONLY as a temporary support to chronic situations.)

The recent observation showed me something further in her development.

First off, background info: Quin had just turned 3. I observed that Quin had been excluded from the older two children’s play, largely because, developmentally, her play had yet to reach the give-and-take socio-dramatic play level that the other children reveled in. Moreover, the other two children were using English, a language Quin was less expressive in (compared to Mandarin).

But Quin did show an interest in other children playing with her.

From 3 to 4 years

  • They begin to be interested in having friends. (Bruce, Meggit & Grenier, 2010)

As was apparent when she said “But no one is playing with me!” and when she would follow the other children around, and stand there staring at them play. She might have known the words for requesting to join their play, but she was not able to yet utilize it (3rd period in the three period lesson, Montessori). So even if I told her it she is unlikely to be able to use it organically.

At one point she was invited to pull a cart with the other children sitting down. She made a masterful effort, grunting as she tried very hard to pull the heavy cart.

What surprised me when seeing this was how, usually, she would throw a tantrum immediately after she tried and didn’t succeed. This told me that Quin is now able to subsume her own frustration for a greater interest. In this case, social – the opportunity to play with others.

It had come to my attention that after her 3rd birthday, there were less incidences of tantrums over things she wishes we would do for her. It hadn’t entirely gone away yet. But it is a worthy lesson for me to understand that, as much as she has her own personality and always shall, having a meltdown all the time is not an aspect of her TEMPERAMENT, but a developmental phase. It is necessary that I understand their stages and continue to view the children in the most positive potential light possible, so that I do not prove an obstruct to their growth (Montessori).

Montessori on Attachment


Attachment Theory was developed after Maria Montessori by Bowlby, beginning in 1969. So imagine my surprise to find Montessori speaking of Attachment in her 1946 London Lectures!

Little children between three and six years of age have a special psychology. They are full of love. They are only without love if they are ill treated. If they are badly treated their real nature is altered. Children are full of love and need to be loved in order to grow. All mothers naturally love their children and so the children get this love that they need.The love of the parents is the security of the young age. Their joy in life depends on the love for each other of all the people around them.

The sense of security that comes from having loving parents is necessary, too, for success in school; children of united families are more successful. Little children need to feel that their parents cannot live without them – that if they are not happy, their parents suffer. A psychologist gae a lecture here in London showing that harm was done to small children who had to be left behind by their parents when they went to work in the Colonies. He gave a striking example of a businessman who went to Australia, leaving his wife and little son in England. The child felt that he father was not so attached to them and then one day the mother told him that his father needed her and that she would have to join him. The child was broken-hearted. he had had the security of thinking that his mother loved him better than anyone else and then learnt that she, instead preferred the father. This meant the loss of all security for him.


By seven years of age, the child has a different psychology. He is no longer dependent on his parents’ love.

— Lecture 28 Religious Education, The 1946 London Lectures

I had previously written briefly on Montessori’s viewpoint on attachment here through the words of her student, Margaret Humfray. Half a year later, I wrote an essay that particularly focused on Attachment, as part of my Montessori training requirements, where I was not to quote Montessori. Here I had the opportunity to delve into the science of the theory of attachment. Where I found some surprising things. I think it is useful for parents to be aware of the findings of these attachment studies in the past half century, which I have summarized below.

  1. John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory (1969) was inspired by various animal studies : Harlow’s cloth mother/iron mother rhesus monkey study, and Konrad Lorenz’s discovery of imprinting in grey lag goslings.
  2. Bowlby’s timeline for attachment:
    – Infants begin to exhibit preferential communication with primary caregivers around 5~7 months of age
    – Attachment behaviours (clinging, upset when mother figure is absent…etc.) at around 9 months.
    – Attachment behaviours peak at 12~16 months.
    – Attachement formation has a sensitive period up to 2 or 3 years of age.
    – Child becomes able to accomodate for other people’s needs around age 3. This is the next stage in the attachment relationship. Child exhibits less need for proximity and can now operate on more abstract needs such as affection, trust and approval.
  3. Mary Ainsworth discovered that parenting style influences attachment style. It is important to note that infants, and later children, are shown to express different forms of attachment behaviours (or types) when presented with different adults in their life. Ex: the child may express type B when interacting with father, and type D to mother.
  4. Attachment style has ramifications for parent-child relationship into adulthood. Afterwards, other researchers found that:
    – Attachment styles can continue to be propagated into the next generation.
    – Children can change attachment category through life (Smith, Cowie & Blades, 2003)
    – Mothers who experienced deprived parenting, but were highly reflective individuals, tended to raise securely attached infants (Fonagy etal., 1994)
  5.  Further into his career, Bowlby had modified his statement from ‘mothers’ to ‘primary caregivers’. Attachment does not have to be the mother, or female. Can be small constellation of primary caregivers.
  6. Later studies have also shown that there is no absolute prediction of the child’s ability to relate to others based on the attachment type they displayed in the lab during infancy. There are two ideas about how this may be: 1) that some children may be more resilient than others. And 2) that later trust relationships that were formed may also be influential to the child’s social outlook.

    Keywords: Internal Working Model (Bowlby, 1969), Concept of Self (Bowlby, 1988), Secure Base, Strange Situation (Ainsworth), Parenting Styles (Ainsworth, 1978), 4 Types of Attachment (Ainsworth et al, 1978; Main, Solomon, 1990), Adult Attachment Interview (George, Kaplan, Main)


Films for children ages 2~5

I would like to suggest here a list of videos that we allow our children to watch. In dialogue with other parents and teachers, I have come to realise that my list is more stringent than most (among both secular and religious).


Young children have a slower processing speed than adults, and require adequate context (background information) to understand plot and dialogue. I personally believe it is possible to, superficially, give children context through film. Superficially, because this medium engages only two of our senses. It is important, however, that even in giving children context, we pay attention to the scaffolding of knowledge. Film can be very effectively used to illustrate concepts or questions that we have. I would, however, strongly suggest we carefully control this medium as a means to answer questions, so that the written word can still hold attraction for a child. Our challenge as adults is to allow children to feel enough mental hunger, with just-right resources, so that their natural inclination to learn can be optimised.

Pacing is also extremely important. It is possible for a young child to appear entranced, and say they enjoy a film, without being aware of the plot and thereby derive meaningful benefit to them.

I believe that this list is mostly adequate for children throughout their preschool years (2 ~6 years old), particularly as young children enjoy the comforts of watching the same videos over and over again. In our family, we only let children watch videos on the weekends, for 30 minutes each time, 2 times a day. We are also flexible in reducing the time each day if the kids are having fun, and sometimes mixing it up with doing boardgames, making something, or puzzles together instead.

Please note that I still do not recommend any videos for children under two years old, despite recent APA change.

The following is roughly listed by order of introduction. Also, as a Montessorian, I try to minimize fantasy for this age group because it is difficult for children this age to distinguish between fantasy and reality. A good grounding in real things is also vital to children’s imaginations later on. However, it is very difficult. I would always suggest watching something yourself before allowing your child to see it. I do not necessarily follow what is politically correct, even though most of the films here happen to be, because children do not necessarily focus on what the adults see. My focus is pacing, understanding, relate-ability, comfort, low-stimulation, and (mostly) accurate information for this age group.

  1. Le Ballon Rouge : a mostly wordless story of a young boy and his magical balloon in post WWII Paris.
  2. Petit D’Ours Brun: French, a brown bear and his family. Very relate-able to a young child’s daily life close to home. Each episode lasting only 3 minutes
  3. Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood: Repetition and pacing, on topics that matter to young children. There are whole essays written on the lovableness of Mr. Roger’s philosophy.
  4. Go Outside by Cbeebies: slightly similar to the above. All reality based.
  5. Thomas the Tank Engine: I recommend the first series. Also The End of the Line which talks about how trains work. I allowed the children to watch End of the Line before we started with Thomas.
  6. : some real gems here of oral story telling. Particularly the older the actor the better they perform. I am also fond of audiobooks for road trips.
  7. Mr. Wizard: Science experiments. I do not recommend Bill Nye the Science Guy for this age group.
  8. : Canadian National Film Board. A lot of treasures to look for.
  9. National Geographic: I recommend getting the DVDs instead of channel. Their recent programs are often too hyper and convey less information.
  10. Scholastic Storybook Treasures: DVDs, a lot are very well produced from classic story books.
  11. Studio Ghibli’s – My neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. All of the rest should be reserved for elementary or adolescence.
  12. Miniscule – animated insects doing things. Cute, but not vital.
  13. Old fashioned musicals: So far we have watched Merry Andrews, and Oliver! (1968) – though I may skip part of the ending until elementary. The music made a big impression on the children. The Sound of Music is also adequate.
  14. Frozen – I have not found anything objectionable in this one. It is a lovely surprise.
In talking to various friends and acquaintances who share my educational philosophy, it appears that my view of acceptable imagery for children may be more stringent than most. A great deal of this is attributed to my own memories of TV watching when my father was getting his Masters in the US (between ages 4~7 years old) – how it made me feel, how much I actually comprehended, which parts I enjoyed…etc. It is possible to examine them closely because some of the videos I watched I have only viewed again much later, like now as an adult, and so I am quite sure that the memories of the experience have not been changed through repeated viewings as I matured. As long as I remember, my parents had never had cable TV, and around the time I was in middle school, my parents cut off access to television completely. This has been extremely conducive towards my being forced to create my own amusements and content – through reading, writing and crafting. But this is another story.
If you talk to Montessori teachers, many of them will recommend very little to no TV watching at home. Montessori teachers who have young children of their own, however,will often have them watch things. The fact of life is that we are often so busy, and there are so many media options for us as adults to consume, that we rarely screen children’s media or watch it ourselves before giving it to our children.

Susan Sontag has theorized that photography desensitizes its audience to horrific human experiences, and children are exposed to experiences before they are ready for them. I would argue that movies have an even more surreptitious effect – for they present images so quickly, and often in such an authoritative manner, that disturbances rarely allow for adequate processing to articulate. The fact that some children do not present with maladjustment immediately prior to an imagery experience does not, as many sensitive parents and caregivers well know, imply that it has not bothered them .

Meghan Owenz states in a post here:

Some shows for young children attempt to teach children valuable social lessons, such as the importance of honesty. But your child will likely learn social lessons better from you.  One study found that children sometimes come away with the opposite “lesson,” thinking a solution is to lie as opposed to tell the truth. In the study, children were more like to remember the conflict or struggle over lying, but not the solution.11 Because children cannot consistently understand the difference between fantasy and reality until after age 6, the conflict may be more salient to them. It is like a threat and their brain directs more resources towards it, making it likely that they will remember that conflict.

Much older research from 1978 had previously found that when prosocial content is mixed with violence or conflict, children focused on the antisocial components like violence more than outcomes or messages associated with the violence.12 A meta-analysis of previous studies found that when children were shown prosocial content with violence or conflict, there was an association with negative behavioral outcomes.13 The take-home: When there is scary, threatening or violent conflict, that is what children pay attention to and remember, often at the expense of remembering the consequences or solutions.

Would be interested to hear of other ones you recommend!