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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Babies are self-driven to learn

One of life-changing things I learnt through Montessori is that babies are self-driven to learn. Quin is very handsy. She goes all around the room and finds things to touch, to taste, to manipulate. This is Quin at 10 months old. Watching her is like seeing a scientist at work.


Note that babies come in different temperaments. Some prefer to sit back and watch for a while before doing anything, some (like Knox) prefers interaction with people over objects…etc. The key thing is to allow young children and infants the freedom to move around, and design your space so there is not much you need to say no to, so they have the freedom to explore without being constantly checked and admonished.

I am grateful though that Quin seems to be coming out of her oral phase.

Literacy update on the illiterates in our household

Quin doesn’t really seem to have an attention span for being read to too much yet. She will go through a few pages. I don’t take this as an indication of her interest in it though – just that she isn’t connecting the pictures/stories yet. It took a while of consistent reading every day before Knox became interested in being read to, and now he can’t stop asking to be read to, even climbing in between another parent and his child to hear the story! We have had to developed a quota of 3 books each time! Despite being pre-illiterate (is there such a word?), Quin has been turning the pages of books. (Knox never did until he started looking at books by himself.) or, when I turn it part way, she will turn it the whole way. Board books are easier. She will crawl over to a touchy-feely board book and touch through it herself. She also enjoys going over to the bookshelf and taking down the books. If it is magazines she will slide with it, rolling the page with palms. I’ve noticed this interest is in the books in particular because I have replaced a shelf of books with stacked cases of cassette tapes, and it lies there unmolested whilst the surrounding books are taken out with loving attention.

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Knox is enjoying his cassette tapes. He has pulled a few apart though I’ve reminded him that once they’re gone, they’re gone. I suppose the next one he pulls apart I will show him how to wind it up again and put it in a basket for him to experiment with, though I hope there are no more! He also very much enjoys the BBC dramatization of The Secret Garden that we borrowed from the library. He will ask me to plug the player in so he can play it, and then linger around listening. Sometimes he will go off to play while it is still on and if I turn it off within earshot he will ask to turn it on again. I wonder how this works for him? I personally think it’s great as it’s designed for the ears, as most media now are designed for the sight and you lose the ability to do other things when glued to the screen. I think it is worthwhile for him to isolate that sensation for a while.

Knox has also been keen on hearing some early literacy books such as Abe’s Hat, Mouse Soup, Sticker Swap, and the Bob book Joe’s Toe. I find Sticker Swap and Joe’s Toe particularly puzzling, as there is hardly any plot and, in the case of Joe’s Toe, illustration is stick-figurish. Mike suggests that Knox is beginning to recognize some words, though I do not find that he tracks my finger when I point out the words. Something is going on here…

Also, I noticed Knox keeps cycling back to the books we have at home, he will climb on the sofa to get at them from the top shelf. I wonder if there is a particular attachment children develop towards the first books? It may well be worth looking into, as this could mean something for the choices we make when we first start out reading to them. Also, I’ve noticed that he doesn’t seem as keen on naming books (books with a laundry image of items to be named), though he still enjoys them. He will not pull them out at the same time as story books. I think the naming things serves language need that can be slightly separate from the stories.

Also, we have one set of image flashcards on a ring that I’ve gone through with him once or twice. The past few days he will bring it over himself while I am working, and flip through them, asking “What’s this?”, and then naming them himself if he knows it already. It helps me realize that there is no harm in flashcards, as in most materials, as long it is something that fulfills the child’s inner need.

I have started identifying a few sounds to him. The Montessori way of naming the alphabet is to call them by their phonic sound, not by their name. I don’t think he gets the full notion of specific symbolics yet as he will still point to any writing and say “Knox!” or “Quin!” or “Happy Birthday!”

The other day it was late and we were in the car, Knox asked for a book, we had no books on us so Mike started orally telling him the story of “Caps for Sale”. He was enthralled.

Knox has also started being able to trace the geometric shapes, though not yet really fill them in. I also got a geometric shapes app on my phone for moments outside running errands or something and there really is nothing to do, though for the most part I like having him wallow in the boredom so he can notice things and think of things to do himself. Some of the shapes are difficult, particularly the triangles. The squares seem quickest for him. But I’ve noticed sometimes he is just holding the phone and staring into space, but when I try to take the phone away from him he will protest. I wonder what is going on here. Hmmm…

Update: 2014 June 29th
Knox started ‘reading’ this book to himself!