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*FREE DIGITAL MAG *ISSUE 42 FEBRUARY 2018

THE SACRED CHILD JOURNEY

Communication The Montessori Way

Educational Equipment Suppliers


Desiderata You are a Child of the Universe, No less than the trees and the stars; You have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, No doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should. - Max Ehrmann -


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Communication The Montessori Way Struggling with how to talk to kids is a right of passage for parents and caretakers. By Marnie Craycroft Learning how to improve communication with kids is not simply about getting them to act in a certain way, it is about guiding them to be better communicators, how to live peacefully, how to be kind, and to how to effectively resolve conflict. This means knowing when to intervene, and knowing how to communicate during conflict.

Related Post: What Questions to Ask Before You Intervene Once you’re done reading this article, you will feel more confident & more prepared to communicate with your child and to help guide your child to be a rock solid communicator.

Don’t panic. You are not alone. This stuff is hard. Toddler and preschooler communication is challenging for any adult. So, I thought I would share tips on improving communication with young children that I’ve gathered over the years as a parent ad educator. Did you know that toddlers and preschoolers can solve their own problems? Yes, it is true!

“It is the child who makes the man, and no man exists who was not made by the child he once was.” ~ Dr. Maria Montessori


With the help and guidance of us grown-ups, who often are too quick to offer solutions without giving children the opportunity to come up with a solution on their own, children just might be able to do it. They just might surprise us. The best part is that they can develop important life skills of problem solving and decision making. Not to mention, they will feel capable and independent. Check out my book lists for children for ideas on how to help children develop key social and emotional skills.

During my training, I attended a wonderful Montessori presentation by a Virginia Varga. She pioneered the development of a Montessori Infant & Toddler curriculum in the 60s. Her experience with children, particularly toddlers, is extensive, to say the least. She passed some of her knowledge onto those of us lucky enough to be in her audience.

In short, she was pretty awesome. I was fascinated with her. She emphasized that toddlers are in their prime developing a sense of identity and that, by 2 years old, the basic structure of personality is already formed in these little spirits. That is not to say that personality can’t change to some extent but the basic foundation already exists in form. Even at birth, temperament is deeply embedded in who we all are. I loved it when Virginia said, emphasizing Maria Montessori herself, “already at 3, the child is a little man”. I could not help but giggle a bit thinking of my own children and all their “personality”.


One theme in her Montessori presentation was how parents and educators are too quick to problem solve for children, that we are given many opportunities to guide them to make decisions on their own but we choose to offer solutions instead of asking questions. Conflict resolution is a life skill. Helping children understand and process their emotions, and then manage them is a life skill. I am guilty. I am betting I am not alone in this boat. I got so much out of her talk that I had to share some of the specific communication tactics with you.

10 Ways to Absolutely Improve Toddler Communication Acknowledge and identify feelings: “I notice that you are mad. Is that because Ben took the truck away from you?” • Let’s the child know that his feelings have been heard by us. Recognizing and responding to needs and wants expressed through feelings changes a child’s behavior. Interpret the experience: “It looks like you both want the truck” • Let’s the child know that someone understands him, instead of saying “Your brother wants the truck”, offer an interpretation. Report the observation: “You would like the truck but Ben took it from you” • Let’s the child process the situation Repeat the “complaint” – “You said the bike is not working” • Along the same lines as the above two, repeating the complaint not only makes the child feel heard, it also gives adult time to think about next steps. Ask questions – “How is it broken?” “Why won’t it go?” What would like to happen now?” • Asking a question stimulates thinking and reduces stress to the brain allowing for (better) problem solving and decision making. Don’t immediately suggest an option to solve the problem. Allow the child(ren) time to think about how to solve the problem offer solutions and feel capable.


Wait for the Answer – Don’t ask a question and then let the child run away or you or the child get distracted by something. Ask the question and wait for and expect an answer. If the child runs away, bring him back into the situation by saying, “I asked XYZ, what is your answer?” End a Question with a Question – If you ask the child “Would you like to share the truck with Ben?” and he says, “No”, continue by asking, “How do you think that makes Ben feel?” or “When can Ben play with the truck?” Model Thinking – We all sometimes talk to ourselves out loud. Modeling thinking is similar. Say something like, “I think Ben & Ethan will probably find a way to solve the problem.” Respect children’s wants and needs– Never force a child to share his things. If he is playing with a truck and his brother takes that truck away, instead of requesting that he share the truck, ask him and if he says, “no”, ask him when he might be ready to share his truck. Children can be very generous when given the opportunity to do so. Facilitate peaceful decision-making – Keep the problem within the children. Guide them to solve the problem together. Don’t solve it for them. You can not start too young with this approach. The approach takes practice and repetition. Even the youngest child who may not have the words to respond can take words into his world. He understands. In my Montessori at Home Guide for Parents, I offer loads more helpful tips to add to your toolbox, ready for use! I will end with a quote from the presentation:

“By following and gently leading the child ‘across the bridge’ you can celebrate the joy of the child’s psychological birth. The child is a person “I am” and “I can”. There is so much more to write on this topic so indeed expect more to come…we can help our children be peaceful and bring peace to their minds and hearts.

I hope we inspired you today! Marnie


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Montessori practice is always up-to-date and dynamic because observation and the meeting of needs is continual and specific for each child. When physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional needs are met children glow with excitement and a drive to play and work with enthusiasm, to learn, and to create. They exhibit a desire to teach, help, and care for others and for their environment. The high level of academic achievement so common in Montessori schools is a natural outcome of experience in such a supportive environment. The Montessori method of education is a model which serves the needs of children of all levels of mental and physical ability as they live and learn in a natural, mixed-age group which is very much like the society they will live in as adults. Experience and research both indicate that children attending Montessori schools tend to be competent, self-disciplined, socially well adjusted, and happy.

1: Competence Children in Montessori schools are often several years above grade level in their basic skills. Also, since the Montessori education is comprehensive, children are often exceptionally knowledgeable in a number of other areas as well.

2: Self-discipline Montessori schools are well known for children’s development of self-discipline. Children choose to work long and hard. They treat materials and others with respect. They display patience and resistance to temptation and the ability to attend for long periods.

3: Social Adjustment Montessori school children usually strike a visitor as friendly empathetic, and co-operative. The classroom is a cheerful social community where children happily help each other. It is not uncommon to see a child offer to help another child. Also, learning social grace and courtesy is a part of the Montessori curriculum.

4: Happiness Most parents of children in a Montessori school comment on how much their children love school.

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4 Strategies to Energize and Focus Your Students

By Ben Johnson

The real-life application of learning engages students beyond worksheets and traditional methods. Students are often bombarded with distractions, and it’s a challenge to keep them focused on what they are learning and the task at hand. The following four strategies I have found to be incredibly helpful in keeping students focused daily—and throughout the school year.


1. Engage Student Leadership in the Classroom Some of the students who seem least interested in the learning are also some of the most effective students in organizing and orchestrating classroom projects. These student leaders can also be persuasive in assisting others in their learning. I recently started a project-based learning unit on travel in Spanish speaking countries, and I handpicked a general manager for each class. I chose the student that was self-assured enough to make things happen, and in many cases, these were students with disciplinary issues. I then asked the class to elect two student helpers for the general manager. I knew that making sure that this leadership team knew how to lead was incredibly important, so I took the time to explain the vision and goals, providing specific tasks that needed to be done. I advised them that they were not the ones that should be doing the tasks, but they are the ones supervising to make sure that the tasks get done. I also gave them liberty on how they could accomplish the tasks. The results were impressive and better than past results when I had been the sole manager of the learning.

2. Involve as Many Students as Possible The first segment of our travel project was to transform our classroom into a travel agency. I requested that the leadership team for each class assign students to make artifacts for the agency—business cards, brochures, posters, and travel plan forms. Every student also had to create a passport, so photos had to be taken and a group of students were put in charge of that as well. The language component required that everyone prepare a dialogue (in Spanish) to plan her or his trip with a travel agent. The leadership team kept constant track of where the students were on their passports, their dialogues, and other assigned tasks, and they were also busy on their own tasks.

3. Give the Students an Urgent Reason to Learn The second phase of our travel unit was the actual boarding and flight in our classroom-turnedairplane. We transformed the classroom into a boarding area and the interior of an airplane. Students created colorful cardboard panels designed to look like airplane windows to divide the classroom. They voted on who would play the role of the pilot and flight attendant. The students chosen for the roles wrote scripts they had to memorize and perform as part of their duties. Students had to successfully apply for and obtain a visa, as well as obtain their boarding pass—all through conversations with each other—before they could actually board the plane. To add to the illusion of realism, once the students were all boarded, they watched a video of a pilot’s eye view of a take-off. Later they viewed a short in-flight movie, and the flight attendant gave them drinks and pretzels. During the flight, each student had to engage their seatmate in a three-topic conversation that I evaluated before they could get their treat. When I asked the students to reflect on this experience and their learning, many happily shared that they could successfully travel to a Spanish speaking country (most of the students had never flown, and this was their “first” experience).


4. Help Students Feel Success I told the students:

“We landed safely! The pilot and flight attendant did a wonderful job of creating this project. ¡Aplauso por favor! We need to also thank the management team for all their hard work in creating the plane and the boarding area. ¡Aplauso por favor!” Each student knew she/he was successful. No one could board the plane without all the boarding tasks completed. They knew they were successful in the dialogues because they could not get their in-flight treat until they performed the dialogue satisfactorily according to the rubric. The basis for performance-based learning and project-based learning is getting the students to do things that show they know how to apply the knowledge and skills to real-life, or life-like, situations. They moved from one completed task to another, and this kept them focused on the ultimate goal: boarding the plane. Having an end goal will inspire students to stay focused on the task at hand. The next leg of our travel project will take place in the hotel, and in order to get their room, they are going to have to communicate effectively with the receptionist. In order to find the restaurant, they will have to successfully get and follow directions from the hotel doorman.

Additional Planning and Effort—It's Worth It I saw students’ attitudes change with this project. I saw students who were hard to enthuse come to class excited. They loved having a say in what their passport names would be and the dialogue they would engage in on the plane. Giving students a chance to create a learning environment, engaging all of them in an urgent reason to learn, and providing continual feedback as they progress are ways to help your students focus. Project planning does require extra planning and preparation on the part of the teacher, but the benefits are worth the risk of bringing a bit of chaos to our classrooms. Real-life application of learning engages students beyond worksheets and traditional methods. Projects like the one described provide an opportunity for students to put to practice the knowledge and skills they have learned in an authentic way.


Our guest author is Harry Carr. Harry is currently working in a small company which is situated in London and she loves to write about organizing and cleaning topics such as this one that she wrote for us.

There are plenty of ways to keep your toddler entertained with creating art but most of them end up with a messy room which needs professional cleaning. These 5 clever ways to avoid toddler’s mess will save you time, efforts and ensure fun time for your kids. Apply them to ensure the hygienic and neat condition of your home. You can protect some of the pieces of furniture and floors with suitable coverings and newspapers but the most important things are the materials for art you give your toddler to use and play with. You can supply your toddler with various tools and materials for drawing, art time and playing which will let you clean his/her room easier. These are scissors, construction paper, tape, strings. For drawing and painting, choose and buy washable markers and crayons. The paint your toddler uses should be washable which will let you clean the mess and splatters from the place easier later. The glue you give your toddler better be in a tube than in a bottle which is easier for applying. Glue sticks are the most suitable for art projects as they are safer.

Marble worktops are appropriate for your toddler to paint and draw on which will let him/her be entertained for hours and you won’t have problems with the cleaning of the surface later. Fill several plastic bottles with baby oil and a few colours of watersoluble paint, each colour in a separate plastic container – bottle or cup. You can sprinkle some glitter inside the paint to make it more attractive. Then, just let your toddler squash the paint with fingers on the marble surface creating art. This should be easy for cleaning after the painting is completed. Take photos of the end project before cleaning the surfaces.


You may have those colourful stickers in your home which instead of collecting dust can be re-purposed and used to play by your toddler. Let him/her create some art project using only the dots. You can also apply them as a means to teach your toddler letters and numbers in case he/she shows interest at that age. This way you can provide a messfree play with learning that won’t result in a whole bunch of areas left dirty.

If you have cardboard tubes, you can give them to your toddler to use as the base of the village. The patterned taped is suitable to be applied for decorating and making the village colourful. This play develops qualities like precision, imagination and creativity. As an added bonus, it doesn’t end up in a complete mess. So use it whenever your toddler wants to draw or play.

For this “project” you need contact paper which is sticky-backed, paper scraps, magazine pictures, sequins, feathers and other lightweight and flat items. Help your toddler do the collage with the sticky-backed paper and items you have gathered for the project. After completing it “together” seal the project with a strip of contact paper. Easy, fun and without stains, paint or spillages left for cleaning.


Check your garage for sandpaper leftovers and use them to repurpose for your toddler’s projects. The yarn will stick to the sandpaper magically. By using various yarn “colours” your toddler can make various art projects. The best pieces of art pin on a cork board and display in his/her room. If you use the presented above methods for creating art without mess, you will let your toddler have fun, be creative and develop important qualities which will be needed when he/she grows up. Use the ideas and tips offered here to protect the rooms in your home from getting dirty and filled with splatters. You will save yourself much efforts and time.

Harry is a working mom from London. She runs a small cleaning company called House Cleaners Chiswick. She writes home improvement articles for a couple of blogs.


The Importance of Imagination Do children today use their imaginations as much as we did when we were kids? Do you see your children spinning incredible tales and stories in their fantasy play like we used to when we played “cops and robbers” or “house”? Or does your child’s fantasy play seem to consist only of repetitive movements like karate chops or ballerina spins that have no story to them? Why do you suppose this is, and is it something we should be concerned about if someone grabs your toy away from you when you are four, you need to be able to imagine different ways to handle the situation, like sharing or using your words. If you can’t imagine these possibilities, you will probably just clobber the other kid to get what you want or retreat into a crying jag. If you need to figure out the answer to a high school geometry test question, you need to have the ability to imagine the possible solutions. If you can’t, you will undoubtedly fail, cheat or decide not to care. Has it ever been more important than it is today that we adults are able to imagine new ways of creating a peaceful world?” In the world of child development you may hear us use phrases like “critical thinking skills” and “creative problem-solving abilities” when referring to our goals for your child’s cognitive development. What we are really talking about is… imagination. The way to create human beings with imagination is to provide them with opportunities to develop it for themselves when they are very young. These opportunities are found in one place and one place only… play. Playing with paints, playing with play dough, with costumes, with glue and with crayons. Making a mess. Exploring the woods. Splashing in a puddle. Wondering at a caterpillar you notice inching by you. Pretending to be a bird, gliding through the sky. Are you providing your children enough opportunities for this type of play? If they are spending hours sitting at a computer, watching television or playing video games, they are passive participants being fed someone else’s stories instead of having the time and space to dream up their own. If they are enrolled in soccer, ballet, T-ball, karate and gymnastics all in the same week, they are receiving wonderful opportunities to develop their skills. But they have little to no opportunity to use their creativity and imagination to decide how to use their free time, what fantasy to explore or what part of their world they’d like to discover more about at their own pace, in their own way. Often parents today think that if they give their children too much free time they are wasting opportunities for learning and preparing children for their futures. But these types of parental choices, though done with love and the best of intentions, are not a gift to children, according to current child development theory and research. Children today desperately need time and space to develop their creative imaginations free from adult agendas. Even if your children complain, “I’m bored! There’s nothing to do!” please, please, please trust that if you force them to figure out for themselves how to fill their time, their innate creativity will kick in and their imaginations will soar!


Car Seat Safety You want your child to be safe and sound as you travel with him in your vehicle each day. What you may not know is that every year thousands of children are injured or killed in car crashes. Many of these deaths and injuries could have been avoided if children were properly secured in their car safety seats or seat belts. You can make a difference for your child by using their car seats or seat belts properly every time they ride in your car. How to Choose and Use Choose a car seat based on your child’s age, weight and size. Try it out in the store before you take it home. Place your child in the seat and adjust the straps and buckles to make sure it works for your child. Fit it properly and securely in your car. Ensure the seat is buckled tightly into your vehicle and your child is buckled snugly into the seat. For the best protection for your child, keep him in the seat until he has reached the manufacturer’s height or weight limit. Rear-Facing Seats – All infants and toddlers should ride rear-facing until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their car safety seat. If your baby reaches the height and weight limit for his infant-only seat, he should continue to ride rearfacing in a convertible car seat for as long as possible. Check your car safety seat instructions to find the weight and height limits for rear-facing seats. Some types allow up to the weight of at least 35 pounds. Forward-Facing Seats – Children who are 2 years or older, or who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their car safety seat should ride in a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their seat. Check your car safety seat instructions to find the weight and height limits for forward-facing seats. Some types allow up to a weight of 65-80 pounds. Booster Seats – Children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a belt positioning booster seat until he is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. Booster seats are designed to raise your child so that the lap and shoulder seat belts fit properly. The lap belt should lie low across a child’s upper thighs and the shoulder belt should cross the middle of a child’s chest and shoulder.

Seat Belts Usually between ages 8 and 12, or when they are 4’9” tall, children should use a seat belt in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection. The seat belt should fit properly with the lap belt lying across the child’s upper thighs and the shoulder belt across the chest. Seat belts are designed for adults. If it does not fit your child correctly, she should stay in a booster seat until the seat belt fits her properly. Also, be sure your child does not tuck the shoulder belt behind her back or under her arm.

Tips to remember There are many types of seats that can be used. Be sure that the car safety seat you choose works within current child passenger safety guidelines. When making changes, always follow the car seat instructions. Follow the instructions in your car owner’s manual to properly install your child’s car seat. Always wear your own seat belt as a good role model. Never allow anyone to share car seats or seat belts. The safest place for children under the age of 13 is in the back seat. All of the above information was gathered from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Website at www.aap.org and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Website at www.nhtsa.gov


by Dr Shannon M. Clark Founder of the pregnancy and fertility site BabiesAfter35.com

It’s official. More women are now having babies after age 35 than ever before. The “advanced maternal age” woman is becoming more and more the typical patient rather than the unicorn she once was. Even so, there's still some measure of fear about pregnancy after age 35. It's a common belief that a woman is automatically high risk if she's over age 35 and in need of specialized, highly advanced care during this potentially very complicated pregnancy. But is this really the case? Is the “after 35” pregnancy as risky as we think? I'm a double board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist and maternal-fetal medicine specialist who works with many high-risk pregnant women. Here are a few things I wish more people knew about having a baby post-35:


1. There is an increased risk for certain complications during pregnancy. Women older than 35 are at a higher risk for developing diabetes and/or high blood pressure, having a multiple gestation, delivering prematurely, having a large or a low birth-weight baby, requiring a cesarean section, having placenta previa, and experiencing pregnancy loss. This does not mean, however, that your pregnancy is a ticking time bomb. It does not mean that your pregnancy will automatically result in complications. During routine prenatal care, these conditions will be monitored no matter the age of the patient. But they are simply more common in a pregnancy after age 35.

Plus, as we age there's the potential for developing medical diseases; an aging woman who becomes pregnant is no exception. If you have these or any other pre-existing medical conditions, in addition to being advanced maternal age, you will be monitored more closely during your pregnancy.

2. Age 35 is a “milestone" because it's the age when the risk of genetic abnormalities starts to increase. As a woman ages, egg quality—the number of eggs that are genetically normal—starts to dramatically decrease after age 37 and particularly after age 40. This means the chances of early pregnancy loss and having a pregnancy with a genetic abnormality, like Down syndrome, are increased. Unfortunately, these factors have nothing to do with how healthy you are after age 35; these factors are purely due to age alone. Although this aspect of an older pregnancy is often the most feared, it's a reality that all women after age 35 face. As a result, antenatal testing through a blood test and a detailed ultrasound are recommended for women in this age group. It's also common to offer an appointment for genetic counseling. It's up to each individual, of course, as to what testing is accepted.

3. Otherwise, a healthy woman post-35 should be expected to have a completely normal pregnancy. After consideration and assessment for the risk of a genetic abnormality, followed by a detailed ultrasound for fetal anatomy, the pregnancy should progress as normal. In this case, the only way a healthy woman older than 35 with no significant pre-existing medical conditions would be considered “different” is due to her age alone. Of course, it's important to maintain a healthy lifestyle both during the preconception period and during the pregnancy, in order to minimize potential complications. Some women report having more difficulties with a pregnancy at an older age, and some women report feeling better. Some women report having a harder time recovering after delivery, and some women report bouncing back easily. Every woman is different. The bottom line is that if you're healthy, you should approach your “advanced maternal age” pregnancy with the same optimism that your younger counterparts are expected to enjoy.


How to make sense of dyslexia What is dyslexia? Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that primarily affects the ability to learn to read and spell. It often runs in families and stems from a difficulty in processing the sounds in words. A formal definition of dyslexia was recommended by Sir Jim Rose in an independent report: Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties which was agreed by the Department for Education in 2009.

It found that dyslexia:    

affects the ability to learn to read and spell involves difficulties in dealing with the sounds of words, which makes it especially hard to learn to use phonics to read words can affect short-term memory and speed of recalling names can sometimes co-occur with other kinds of difficulties, for example with maths or with coordination (but not always)

Does everyone experience dyslexia in the same way? Dyslexia is not the same for everyone. It can be mild or severe, can vary depending on other strengths, or difficulties, and on the kind of support and encouragement that is given at school, at home and at work. People with dyslexia often have strengths in reasoning, in visual and creative fields; dyslexia is not related to general intelligence; and is not the result of visual difficulties. Many people learn strategies to manage the effects of dyslexia, but it does not go away and its effects may be felt in new situations or in times of stress. People with dyslexia often, but do not always, show characteristics of other specific learning difficulties such as dyspraxia, attention deficit disorder or dyscalculia.


What causes dyslexia? There is strong evidence that dyslexia runs in families: if someone in a family is dyslexic, then it is very likely that other members of the family are dyslexic to some degree. However, genetics is only part of the story: many other factors make a difference to the overall picture. There are genes that will increase or decrease the risk for dyslexia, but that risk will be affected by many other things, including the effects of teaching and the effects of other genes.

What is the best approach to dyslexia? Understanding and access to the right sources of support are key for anyone who may have dyslexia. With the right support, strategies to overcome the difficulties associated with dyslexia can be learnt and dyslexia need not be a barrier to achievement.

Is dyslexia recognised by schools? We have come a long way since the days when people living with dyslexia were often wrongly labelled as ‘slow’, ‘thick’ or ‘lazy’, with school reports warning parents not to expect much from their child. Today, schools have a duty to provide SEN Support where a child or young person’s learning difficulty, including dyslexia, causes them to learn at a slower pace than their peers. Some 10% of the UK population are affected by dyslexia. But many people don’t actually understand what it is and how people can be affected by it. This week is Dyslexia Awareness Week in the UK and the theme is ‘Making Sense of Dyslexia’, so today we would like to help you to understand what dyslexia is.

What are the signs of dyslexia? Children can display signs of dyslexia from an early age - as young as 3 or 4 years old - but it is usually not formally identified until the age of 6 or 7. Here are some of the signs for different age groups:


Signs of dyslexia in children from 7-11                      

Seems bright in some ways but unexpectedly struggles in others Other members of the family have similar difficulties Has problems carrying out three instructions in sequence Struggles to learn sequences such as days of the week or the alphabet Is a slow reader or makes unexpected errors when reading aloud Often reads a word, then fails to recognise it further down the page Struggles to remember what has been read Puts letters and numbers the wrong way: for example, 15 for 51, b for d or “was” for “saw” Has poor handwriting and/or struggles to hold the pen/pencil correctly and/or learn cursive writing Spells a word several different ways Appears to have poor concentration Struggles with mental arithmetic or learning times tables Seems to struggle with maths and/or understanding the terminology in maths: for example, knowing when to add, subtract or multiply Has difficulties understanding time and tense Confuses left and right Can answer questions orally but has difficulties writing the answer down Has trouble learning nursery rhymes or songs Struggles with phonics and learning the letter-to-sound rules Seems to get frustrated or suffers unduly with stress and/or low self-esteem Struggles to copy information down when reading from the board Needs an unexpected amount of support with homework and struggles to get it done on time Is excessively tired after a day at school

Signs of dyslexia in ages 12 to adult              

Difficulties taking notes, planning and writing essays, letters or reports Struggles with reading and understanding new terminology Quality of work is erratic Difficulties revising for examinations Struggles to communicate knowledge and understanding in exams Feels that the effort put in does not reflect performance or results Forgets names and factual information, even when familiar Struggles to remember things such as a personal PIN or telephone number Struggles to meet deadlines Struggles with personal organisation (finances/household, arrives at lessons with the wrong books, forgets appointments) Difficulties filling in forms or writing cheques Only reads when necessary and never for pleasure Develops work avoidance tactics to disguise difficulties and/or worries about being promoted/taking professional qualifications Difficulties become exacerbated when under pressure of time.


What next? Dyslexia is complex and affects people differently and in different ways but hopefully the above has given a brief insight into some of the ways that dyslexia can affect you. If you want to find out more about it or get involved then join our online community on Twitter, on Facebook or call your local Dyslexia Action Learning Centre.


A lot of time and effort goes into the selection and enrolment of your child in the right crèche. Not only is this first step away from parents and home associated with an extra financial burden for the parents but often also with unexpected health problems for the little one. The initial excitement often gives way to the reality of a chronically sick child. This is only made worse by different advices from everybody around you mixed with a degree of criticism of your parenting skills if not interference by the grandparents.

It is important for you as parent to understand as much as possible about the reasons behind crèche acquired infections, their possible prevention as well as reasonable treatment in order to make the right decisions that will affect your child’s and your own wellbeing.

Background on Crèches Although first day care centres appeared in the middle of the 19th century it is only for the last 30 years that crèches have become an almost integral part especially of urban and suburban societies throughout the world. The reasons are many and include increased urbanisation, double income or single parents, lack of space for caretakers at home, financial consideration, geographical distance from grandparents, stimulation for the child and others. Therefore for the first time in human history do we pool children, as young as three months or younger, into large groups often in confined spaces. They are entrusted to caregivers, who are often overburdened and sometimes lack adequate training for this task.

What is Crèche Syndrome? Large numbers of kids in a small confined space allow organisms such as viruses, bacteria but also fungi and even lice or fleas to spread easily from child to child. Sharing of dummies, bottles, eating utensils and toys help spread disease but so do staff members, who fail to wash their hands or flit back and forth between different age groups of children thereby making the arbitrary separation between them futile. In addition little children have an immature immune system. They are relatively new “earthlings” and as such have not been exposed to all the bugs and germs that an adult has already dealt with and built up immunity against. Hence every virus introduced into the day care centre is most likely unknown to your baby’s immune system and therefore results in a fullblown cold or flu (see Immune System). Remember also that many children in day care have older siblings in pre-school or school, who are a further outside source for infections brought into the crèche. Another important point is the ability of viruses to change their appearance (mutate). This allows them to re-infect a child that has already build up immunity to the virus before the mutation. Despite the fascinating abilities of our immune system we have to acknowledge that viruses are in fact two steps ahead of us.


Finally several anatomical features in small children render them more susceptible to infections. This can be simply due to smaller diameters of air pipes in the lungs or length of e.g. the Eustachian tube resulting in bronchiolitis or middle ear infections (see ABC). Considering the above conditions, the stage is set for frequently recurring and more often chronic infections in the crèche-going child.

“…the stage is set for frequently recurring and more often chronic infections…” Therefore crèche syndrome is not a disease as such but continuous infections and illnesses that often go over into one another without healthy periods in between.

The Maelstrom of Crèche Syndrome The chronically runny or blocked nose, coughs, raised temperature, lack of appetite, frequent waking at night, fidgeting with the ears, skin rashes, bouts of diarrhoea, sore throats and vomiting become part of your daily life. Feedback from the caretaker that your child is feverish or refuses to eat worsens the already gnawing feeling of guilt. Medical or specialist help often fails to make a difference. Hospitalisation is frequently necessary. This in turn puts more pressure on the parent trying to balance between work, household, family and partner. The resulting stress is further aggravated by confusing and contrarian advice from media, family, friends, colleagues and medical personnel. The effect of all this on the parents is often not even considered as the focus is on the child. However the negative feedback that a stressed-out parent has in turn on the wellbeing of the child is another important factor. More often than not there is no quality time to spend with your child and the early years of development are at best captured in photos but lack in your memories.

The Good Beside all the social advantages of a crèche, there are medical benefits for the child as well. Every sniffle and cold in the end translates into immunity for that specific organism. You might regard this almost as an immunisation. Little kids are amazingly tough and resilient. Although they might have a snotty nose or a rather persistent cough they often continue with their daily activities as though nothing is wrong.

Rather than further compromising the child, play, laughter and activities boost the child’s immune system. At some stage of our lives we have to confront all the common viruses and bacteria and build up immunity (see Immune System). If this only happens once the child goes to school it will automatically translate into school days lost, which is less desirable than a few days out of crèche. Crèche syndrome does not last forever. Your child’s immune system strengthens and becomes better and better at identifying and dealing with bugs surrounding us. After the first two to four years you will notice that infections become fewer and often less severe. Eventually your child has basically the same number of colds or flus as you have as an adult.

The number of kids in a crèche is directly linked to the frequency of infections. The smaller the number the smaller the pool of organisms. Although children in a small play-group will still share viruses it is often a distinct episode followed by weeks or even months of no health issues rather than permanent infections that become indistinguishable from one another. Ideally groups of not more than five to six children should be sought out. If at all possible delay the entry into the crèche until the child is two-and-a-half to three years old. Firstly many of the anatomical shortcomings of very young kids will have been overcome (see Anatomy) and hence the child will almost have “outgrown” specific “size-related” health problems. Secondly the older child can communicate much better and is able to e.g. localize pain or cooperate better towards obtaining a diagnosis or during administering treatment.

…majority of children will have regular upper and lower airway infections… The Bad Often however it is not possible to delay your child’s entry into kindergarten until it is “old enough” nor is it easy to find small groups conveniently close to home or work. In this scenario your kid will most likely become ill frequently. Some children seem to go through crèche without any significant medical problems and others have to be taken out of crèche because of uncontrollable health issues. The vast majority of children however will have regular upper and lower airway infections and to a lesser extent tummy and skin diseases i.e. crèche syndrome. And crèche syndrome cannot be cured.


More important than anything else: make peace with the fact that your child’s health is not going to be the same as before it went to crèche. Often the children are less perturbed by their runny nose, cough or temperature than their parents. It is therefore paramount to approach the ensuing medical consequences of crèche-going with reason, empathy (for the child and yourself as parent) and above all knowledge. This is equally important for the medical staff that is being consulted.

“Antibiotics are often given liberally for infections caused by viruses, for which they do not work.” The Ugly The maelstrom scenario (see above) leads the desperate parent to frequently seek medical or other help in order to escape the repeated or chronic nature of the child’s symptoms. However parent’s expectations of a completely healthy child can simply not be met. Remember crèche syndrome is “incurable” and you have to accept some symptoms showing that your child’s immune system is working. Instead parents put pressure on themselves and health professionals to” cure the incurable”. Both parties are at fault when this results in unnecessary, sometimes harmful and often expensive tests, investigations and therapies.

Due to the on-going nature of the child’s symptoms chronic medication is often initiated, which fails to improve the condition. All medication has side effects, which might even cause worsening of your kid’s condition. Antihistamines or drying-up medication will reduce the runny nose but at the same time thicken mucus in nose, sinuses and lungs. Thick secretions cannot be cleared so easily by the membranes and can clog passages in nose or lungs leading to worse infections. Antibiotics are often given liberally for infections caused by viruses, for which they do not work. They will however kill good bacteria in our body. This in turn negatively affects our immune system. Wrong use of antibiotics will also lead to the development of resistance and when it really becomes mandatory to use them they may not be able to eradicate the offending bacteria. Investigations must have a definite goal and should, depending on the findings, influence further treatment. If regardless of the test result, the treatment will be the same, the test might not be warranted.

Blood tests are always associated with a painful needle prick. X-ray and especially CT investigations subject your child to radiation. Especially when such investigations are performed repeatedly it can lead to harmful doses of radiation on the growing child.

Again sound knowledge on your part as parent and mutual trust between you and the doctor will prevent these unfavourable scenarios.

Treatment Since there is no cure for crèche syndrome, the treatment must be symptomatic and supportive. Bear in mind that the vast majority of infections acquired in crèche are viral and will be dealt with by the immune system of your child. Antibiotics cannot kill viruses but are only effective against bacteria.

…increase temperature is a response of the body towards and infection and can help the immune system… Classically viral respiratory infections are highly contagious and will therefore affect many children simultaneously or shortly after one another. This is already a good measure for parents and medical practitioners to gauge whether a condition is viral or bacterial. If half the crèche is sick with similar symptoms then it is most likely “a virus doing the rounds”. The expected symptoms are: Fever: increased temperature is a response of the body towards an infection and can help the immune system to fight the infectious agent. At the same time increased temperatures can slow the growth of offending microorganisms. Slightly raised temperatures can be monitored safely and especially if the child is playful, eating, drinking and sleeping normally medication should be withheld. Temperatures above 38 to 38.5 degrees will often be associated with malaise, loss of playfulness and a poor appetite. The response of a child to fever is very individual and treatment should not necessarily be guided by a specific temperature value but rather by the symptoms of the child. The standard medications comprise Paracetamol (Panado), Ibuprofen ( Brufen), Mefenamic acid (Ponstan) and Diclofenac (Voltaren). Many viral infections are characterised by fluctuating temperatures. Fevers can reach 41 degrees and more and will be associated with a lethargic, miserable child with glassy eyes, a child who does not want to play, feed or sleep.


With or often even without treatment this temperature can come down to normal values (below 37) and your child is acting normally again only to be struck by increasing fever again some hours later. In certain viral infections this pattern can repeat itself for several days.

Concern should be raised by higher temperatures (above 38.5) that do not respond to fever medication.

“Attempts to dry up the secretions are counterproductive...” Runny nose: the membranes lining the nose and sinuses will produce mucus as a response to any irritation. This can be dust, smoke, pollen or in the case of the crèchegoing child most commonly viruses. The mucus is a defence mechanism and helps clean the nasal passages from irritants or infectious agents. A runny nose is therefore a sign of the local immune system at work and beneficial in restoring healthy clean membranes. Attempts to dry up the secretions are counter-productive and should be avoided; the motto should rather be ‘the wetter the better”. Application of topical hypertonic saline-bicarbonate solutions (Kuraflo) is recommended. This will further help the nose at self-cleansing. Crusting is prevented or at least limited, swelling of membranes is reduced and thereby nasal breathing and general comfort for the child improved. The nose will always be more blocked at night and if saline applications are not effective enough at opening the passages and allowing the child to breathe comfortably, topical decongestants such as Oxymetazoline or Xylometazoline (Iliadin, Otrivin) may be used. This should be limited to use at night for the sole purpose of maintaining an open nose for a good night’s rest. During the day the use of hypertonic saline should be continued. Any medication aimed at drying up the nose should be used with caution. Although it will look a lot better if the nose stops running, what actually happens inside nose, sinuses and chest is that secretions are still being produced but become thicker and more viscous. This can lead to clogging of nasal passages, sinus canals, obstruction of Eustachian tube or clogging of small air pipes (bronchioli) in the lungs. The membranes will find it more difficult to get rid of these thicker secretions and often the fine hair (cilia) on the membranes will cease working. Thick mucus is full of protein, warm and wet and therefore the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

The chance for bacterial infections taking place on top of the original viral infection (superinfection) is thereby increased. Chestiness: Hypertonic saline-bicarbonate solutions (Kuraflo) can be applied as a direct nasal spray or nebulised to reach lungs and bronchi. It is completely safe and devoid of side effects and may be used frequently (up to hourly intervals) depending on the severity of symptoms. Physiotherapy for the chest in combination with the hypertonic saline nebulisations helps the child to cough up the secretions. Especially very small children are naturally “lazy coughers”. Despite having a phlegmy chest they would not initiate a cough trying to rid themselves of the sputum as older children or adults would do.

“Cough suppressants should be avoided...” Cough suppressants should be avoided for this reason. Cough is a natural reflex to forcefully clean the lungs from loose phlegm and secretions or even foreign material. Sneezing is another powerful method of the body to propel out sputum and mucus. Moist membranes allow the lungs to clean themselves, transporting secretions upward toward the throat where they are coughed out or swallowed. Nebulisation of hypertonic saline-bicarbonate solution directly dilutes secretions in the airways. Added bicarbonate further thins very thick, viscous phlegm. In addition the hypertonic solution triggers the production of more clear mucus in the bronchi, which “washes out” more unwanted infectious or foreign material and similar to its use in the nose reduces swelling of the lining membranes. Medical or specialist advice must be sought when the condition of your child becomes worse despite your efforts at alleviating the symptoms.

Summary Respiratory infections in crèche are very common and must be managed reasonably. The vast majority of these cases can be treated conservatively with symptomatic support for the child and do not require antibiotics. First line treatment should consist of hypertonic salinebicarbonate nebulisations for chest problems and hypertonic saline-bicarbonate sprays for nasal and sinus conditions in order to support the membrane function in the airways. Fever medication is used if increased temperature affects the child’s wellbeing or fever increases above 38 to 38.5 degrees.


Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding At The Yard on Third

Hippotherapy involves the use of a horse’s movement in therapy. It is a therapy technique that can be used by trained Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and Speech Therapists. How does it work? The child is mounted on a specially trained therapy horse or pony. As the horse/pony walks, its movement is translated into the patient. Through clinical reasoning and evidence based practice, the horse’s movement: Can be guided and changed depending on the client’s needs Is used to get an active response from the client Facilitates functional and more efficient movements in the client’s body The horse or pony used is specifically selected for each client, to make sure it is the right size, gives the desired movement to the client and has the right temperament.

Who can benefit from Hippotherapy? Hippotherapy is specifically for clients who have moderate to severe motor and/or sensory disorders. When a child is referred for Hippotherapy, he/she will be assessed by our Physiotherapist. The assessment will: Determine if Hippotherapy will be beneficial and safe for the child Identify any contra-indications to Hippotherapy Aid in developing individualized therapy goals for the child Aid in selecting the right horse for that child The therapist will then work one-on-one with the child towards achieving their therapy goals.

Why does it work? Hippotherapy is so effective because it influences, enhances and integrates function in multiple systems, including the Sensory systems Neuro-motor system (muscles) The cognitive system.

Hippotherapy is not intended to be done as a treatment program on its own, but as one part of the client’s plan of care.


SAFETY PRECAUTIONS The most important thing to consider when doing Hippotherapy is safety. Horses are wonderful and gentle animals, but they are still a live animal and can frighten easily. Hippotherapy will never be conducted if it is considered unsafe for the client, or for the horse. The horse will always be led by a trained horse expert, who can recognize signs of discomfort or stress in the horse. The therapist will walk alongside the horse and the client on one side, and there will always be another person, walking alongside the other side of the horse. This can be a family member or a volunteer.

Therapeutic riding: Therapeutic riding is a horse-riding program that enhances and strengthens movement the child already has through exercise and activity on horseback. • Therapeutic riding • Is appropriate for children who have minimal to moderate motor and/or sensory disorders. • Can be a progression of Hippotherapy once the child reaches their Hippotherapy goals • Has the same therapeutic benefits of Hippotherapy • Is usually run in small groups by a professional horse riding instructor. Our therapeutic riding program at The Yard on Third has been developed in conjunction with our Physiotherapist, who is trained in Hippotherapy. Contact details: Physiotherapist at the Yard on Third: Angela Kruse 076 347 7177 angkruse16@gmail.com


Benefits of Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding: Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding can result in improvements in the following areas: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Arousal and attention Balance strategies Bi-lateral integration Body awareness Circulation Dynamic postural stability Endurance Midline orientation Mobility of the pelvis, spine and hip joints Muscle tone Muscle strength Musculoskeletal alignment Neuro-motor dysfunction Posture Problem-solving movement strategies Respiratory function Self confidence Sensorimotor integration Symmetry and alignment Timing and co-ordination


Safe Gardening with Dogs and Cats 12 Common Garden Plants Poisonous to Pets By Stephanie Rose Do you like to garden with pets? Dogs and cats can be great garden company and it’s important to keep them safe. I have had my fair share of four-legged garden helpers and I will say that some needed a lot of training to safely roam the garden, while others were able to work it out on their own. When I adopted a young Labrador Retriever, I quickly needed to learn which garden plants were safe for her to eat and which were not because she ate everything. This was very concerning until I learned about twelve common garden plants poisonous to pets. I watched my lab one day as she explored the peas. She has seen me pick a pea pod and eat it. I then fed one to her. She loved it! The next day, I went out to the garden to find her eating the entire pea patch in one sitting. I guess she had developed a taste for gardening. As I looked around the garden, I knew that protecting my vegetable garden was hopeless, but that protecting her from poisonous plants was essential. I researched which garden plants could cause her harm and I was shocked by the results. Not only is the list long, but so many of these plants poisonous to pets are common in home gardens. While the term “poisonous plants� makes us think of rushing a comatose animal to the vet, many poisonous plants will only cause digestive upset or have an unpleasant flavor that will help the animal learn that not everything tastes as good as fresh garden peas.


I was told a story where a dog ate a bunch of ghost peppers off a backyard bush. Those peppers are not only hot but also dangerous for a dog to eat. The dog needed to spend a few days in the vet’s office and had to deal with terrible burning pain. Luckily, the dog made a full recovery and when he got back home, he wouldn’t even walk near the part of the yard that the peppers were growing in (even though the plant had been removed). This pup will surely be savvier in his future culinary adventures. While there are some plants that will teach your pet a valuable lesson, there are others that you want to avoid altogether. I have researched and compiled a list of the 12 plants that you absolutely do not want Fido or Fluffy to eat.

Common Garden Plants that are Seriously Poisonous to Pets If your pet eats any garden plants that you are unsure of you should take them to the vet for a checkup, especially if you notice your pet acting strangely, seeming lethargic, or drooling. There are many toxic garden plants that can cause varying symptoms depending on pet size and amount ingested. Often, the poisoning is less serious. But to be safe, it’s a good idea to watch your pets and take them to a vet if there is any suspicion that they may have been poisoned. • • • • • • • • •

Bulbs: Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, and Autumn Crocus Castor Bean Foxglove Lilies Lily of the Valley Milkweed Oleander Rhododendrons / Azaleas Yew

There are certainly other common garden plants that are poisonous and could have severe consequences. Please look up the plants in your home garden to be sure that you are providing a safe environment for your pets. Of course, it is impossible to watch them at all times and we can hope that with our guidance they stay away from things that make them sick. If you notice your pet acting out of the ordinary, perhaps more aloof or more cuddly, drowsy, drooling, or with diarrhea, it is worth taking them to the vet immediately to see what could be the cause. You know your pet best, and only you can help them when they need it most.


with much appreciation to our advertisers, contributors, endorsers and our readers namaste

Child of the universe montessori feb 2018  

Welcome to the first edition of Child of the Universe Montessori Mag for 2018

Child of the universe montessori feb 2018  

Welcome to the first edition of Child of the Universe Montessori Mag for 2018

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