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Monthly Archives: December 2015

Update Knox 47 months, Quin 28 months

As we’re not a commercial enterprise, we’ve finally reverted our blog name to the free

After having put some of their activities and all of the jigsaw puzzles into an accessible cabinet, they have been getting some things out to work on. The other day Quin got out the box of beads.

As a beginner, one-year-old Knox had previously worked on a ‘bead threading box’ where there were only 3~5 large beads, and a stiff, short thick string that was knotted at the end. In his 3 year old class, he periodically brought home threaded straw necklaces and bracelets. Working on the supposition that she has some experience from her toddler class with beading work and that she wouldn’t have selection anxiety (too many beads! Should I throw them?), this time I had the whole box available for Quin in her cabinet.

Also, at this stage I have a reasonable amount of confidence in what these two kids might do given a certain type of setting. Being in a cabinet with a wooden door, the likelihood of them passing by whilst restless and hitting upon it as a mess-around activity is diminished.

And oh boy was I so pleased when she did immediately recognize it as a threading activity, and also seemed inclined to view it as a sorting activity! She saw that certain colors went in certain compartments, and with some frustration and a gentle tip was able to see that certain strings went with certain bead sizes. I had taped the ‘starting end’ of most of the strings that were too soft when I saw her struggle with it.

In other news:

Recently I had the opportunity to be secret Santa to two children, 6 & 8.


For the 6 year old I chose a put it together plane kit. I am estimating this sort would be a good activity for Knox starting maybe around 5. Though I have reservations as I’m not sure that it can be made into anything else. I am hopeful by that time Quin will be stable enough for Knox to not live in fear (of having his projects wrecked) as he gains capacity to build with Kapla blocks, and cuboro, perhaps even circuits! Right now he builds mostly with sets that have magnets, such as magnatiles, magformers, and tegu (less popular due to polarity and limited shape). Or blocks that fit together (duplo, Gigo junior engineer, tube locks). The interest in these basically started with the capacity to make vehicles. The tegu one doesn’t have any wheels so I suspect that may be part of why it has not yet held his interest. I am so in love with his sudden burst into making symmetry these past few months – planes, boats, race cars, race-car airplanes, fire engine airplanes…etc.

For the 8 year old I chose a 3D drawing kit. When I saw it, it reminded me of the one time our high school tech teacher had us do exercises in isometric projection: drawing an item in 2D from frontal and lateral viewpoints, and switching to drawing it in 3D as well. I loved it. It is one of those things I consider ‘adult secrets’ that only people in the trade know, and for us to be able to experience it was such a fun revelation for me! I believe this toy would best be used in the following sequence : For the child to first do exercises in 3D drawing on paper. And then to use the kit to draw and assemble designs she had pre-designs. I recall, as a child, visiting the homes of friends who had very generous relatives. Their rooms would be like a treasure chest (to me), various components of various kits and board games would be scattered here and there. And my friend would often be complaining that she’s bored. I think if you really do give one of these kits to kids, with no preamble, then it is truly very easy to be bored quickly, as the child does not have the sense of order or discipline to plumb the potentials in these toys, and would ‘abuse it’ to the point that it is not considered precious at all.

Good article on not losing your head this holiday season (if you haven’t already, hahah!):

This is my new favorite intro to the Montessori environment video, it’s one of the rare ones which focuses not on the physical environment, but on how the community operates in accordance with rules that foster mutual respect.

and I love how thoughtful this mother is about sending her child to school:


Update: So our kids got their secret Santa gifts. Knox got a hot wheels race track. Quin got a huge Frozen Elsa doll.

Unfortunately as we had already gotten her a baby doll, I have had to hide her Elsa doll (still in packaging). There was something I read in Montessori From The Start a while ago that resonated with me:

The reality is that very young children can only truly love one doll, one stuffed animal, and a few toys at a time. This experience provides a basis for adult life where one must learn to cherish one spouse, one family, one life, instead of fantasizing that it is possible to “have it all.”

I have found this inability to love too many to be my own experience. For a while in Taiwan, before elementary, I had only one stuffed doll. I would sleep with it. One day a friend of my mom’s gave me another stuffed doll. Now I had two dolls to love. I was confused. The concept of equality entered my mind. I must love them both. But one was obviously more superior in appearance than the other! I should love the uglier one more than …etc. I eventually found this somewhat stressful and let go of the concept of ‘loving them both’. At that point, I was able to see them as ‘only dolls’. And thus ended my baby doll stage.

As an aside, I also had barbies, about 2 or 3 I think. And despite being used for role play, dressing up (this helped me understand when I read, later on, how difficult it must be to dress corpses), and having an interesting experience in trying to wash their hair, they do not inspire the same maternal instinct as baby dolls. Also, I do not remember the baby dolls of other little girls inspiring maternal instinct, as I knew these belonged to other little girls and I did not have the right to care for them. If you think about it, the internal worlds of children are really quite complex and (for those of us that remember) has the potential involve many many billable hours in the counseling office if we’re not careful. Part of my natural hesitation to take the lead in children’s play is my understanding that I cannot really understand them if I’m talking at them all the time.

Knox does not appear to have a strong inclination towards dolls one way or another. There was one time when he took someone’s doll, walked a good distance away from the rest of the children, and sat down to ‘nurse’ it (with an expression as if he were in a trance! I still wonder what he was thinking).

From Feb, 2014

From Feb, 2014

However, Quin seems to enjoy holding dolls more, referring to dolls as ‘baby’, pushing doll in toy stroller, looking at babies, and pretending herself to be a ‘baby’. Now she will have one doll to love. We will see how it goes.

On their shelf this week:

Growing dignity

I like this reminder about being mindful in the way we talk to children:  informative talk instead of directives.
This really works! I have noticed that I am much more likely to get compliance if I take the time to think about how I phrase reminders to my children. How Knox is much more happier about being in order.
Sometimes a little support can be useful too:
Recently Knox would go down the stairs ahead of us to open the front door, which leads directly into the street. I’ve reminded him a few times not to do that. I’ve told him that if he opens the door without me present he runs the risk of someone grabbing him. But he still can’t resist opening the door. One time I found him with the door open the width of his head, and he grinningly told me that he will ‘very quickly shut the door if someone should come and grab me.’
I realized that he wants to see outside while waiting for his small sister and very pregnant mother to walk slowly down the stairs. This is his way of whiling away the time in the dark stair case. He is very good at self-amusing, but he needs a means of amusing himself. So I said “How about you wait for us on the 2nd floor? That way you can see out the window to the entire park! And then when we reach you we can go to the first floor together.”
I only said this once to him. And he has been waiting for us on the 2nd floor ever since! This is so amazing for me.
Of course I have to remind myself that Knox has entered the 2nd or 3rd stage of obedience for a while. This is why he is allowed a bit more autonomy than his sister. With Quin I still have to use easier language and keep her more restrained. I have to remind myself not to compare them since they are at different developmental stages, even if her resting face is very mature and knowing, it is not the reality…
當然阿諾現在在聽得懂,聽得進去道理是蠻穩定的,不然是不會考慮讓他自己先下樓梯的。早在接近三歲時我分享到他展現出下一階段『秩序』期 ,對於還不到兩歲半的妹妹,我還是要用比較簡單的語詞,也給予比較少自主空間。
The need for a cooperative/respectful way of speaking is true between adults as well. Having the privilege of experiencing different cultures, I find the difference in the accepted standard of talking to others very noticeable. Such as: it is much more common for elders in Taiwan to use patronizing language, under the auspices of “being caring and community oriented”. And then they are frequently surprised by how ungraciously it is received! While it can be tiring to constantly respond to rapid-fire needs of younger children, I have to remind myself that it doesn’t imply they are so beholden to me that they should not exercise their will. Indeed, their will is what they need to thrive as adults! And why not,  in the process, evolve my own capacities in communication!

Happy sewing! See you tomorrow!