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Be A Tree


Grounding Children Exercises



Calm Bodies Calm Minds

Lisa Raleigh’s WORKOUTS for Mums

Get Outside!

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Montessori and Fantasy-play Misconception: Montessori schools do not allow for fantasy and inhibit children from using their imagination We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry. Dr. Maria Montessori The concepts of creativity, fantasy and imagination are some of the most hotly debated topics in Montessori education. One needs to keep in mind though that they were not Dr. Montessori’s actually words. She used early Italian words which were then translated into these words for the English speaking public in the early 1900’s. Since that time, their meanings have changed. Today the meaning of creativity, fantasy and imagination almost synonymous, but in Dr. Montessori’s time they had different meanings.

fantasy - the departure of truth from reality. Another more up to date term that I have heard from my Italian speaking family members is “day dreaming”. imagination- the use of ones intellect and ability to design something new and different. creativity- the act of Imagination When Dr. Montessori opened her first school for 3-6-year-olds she filled it with dolls and other traditional make-believe toys, but she soon found that when children were given the opportunity to do real work such as cooking, cleaning, caring for themselves, each other, and the environment, they completely lost interest in make-believe and preferred real work. As time continued Dr. Montessori also noticed that young children had a hard time distinguishing between real and imaginary. They were constantly asking. “Is this real?” This observation still rings true today, as Barbara Curtis author of the Montessori BLOG Mommy Life says, “How is a three or four year old American child reading picture books to understand that though he's never seen one, a camel is real while a fairy is not? Or that places like the Grand Canyon or the Sahara Desert or Niagara Falls or the Great Wall of China are real while Disneyland is not”

Additionally, part of Friedrich Froebel's kindergarten curriculum was teacher guided imaginary play. Although Montessori agreed with Froebel an many aspects of education, here was one place their beliefs diverged. Montessori felt that instead of pretending to be a farmer, children understand farming better by actually tending a garden, instead of pretending to be cooking dinner, children learn more by actually cooking. So at times some of Dr. Montessori's comments on fantasy were actually a direct commentary on Froebel's guided imaginary play. It was through these observations that Dr. Montessori spoke out against fantasy- the adult lead departure of truth from reality and why she felt that “real activities� as opposed to make believe ones were more important to the young child trying to make sense of the world around them. It was her belief that the world is such an amazing and wonder-filled place, that we should focus on giving as much of it as we can to the young child to help them discover everything possible about our natural world. In addition, she believed that dance, art and music activities, usually considered "creative activities" were integral parts of the Montessori classroom.

"Human consciousness comes into the world as a flaming ball of imagination. Everything invented by human beings, physical or mental, is the fruit of someone's imagination. In the study of history and geography we are helpless without imagination, and when we propose to introduce the universe to the child, what but the imagination can be of use to us? I consider it a crime to present such subjects as may be noble and creative aids to the imaginative faculty in such a manner as to deny its use, and on the other hand to require children to memorize that which they have not been able to visualize..... The secret of good teaching is to regard the children's intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Our aim therefore is not merely to make the children understand, and still less to force them to memorize, but so to touch their imagination as to enthuse them to their inmost core. We do not want complacent pupils but eager ones; we seek to sow life in children rather than theories, to help them in their growth, mental and emotional as well as physical." Dr. Maria Montessori Source:

“Relax.” “Calm down.” “Just sit still.” We live in a busy, fast-paced world where we constantly move from one thing to another. Most children don’t know what it feels like to truly calm down, relax, and just sit still, yet these are requests they hear so often. I believe taking time to explicitly teach breathing and mindfulness techniques to our youth and incorporating these practices into their daily life sets a foundation for their future, and the future of our society. Yoga pairs mindful breathing with physical postures. Simply put, yoga teaches us to slow down, notice what is happening in our bodies, and become present. Yoga does not need to be practiced in a hot room while you’re standing on your hands. It is for people of all ages and skill levels. That’s why I decided to bring yoga into my special education classroom. I can personally attest to the fact that big changes can happen in just 5-10 minutes with every child, every age group, every body type, and every personality, even while they’re sitting at a classroom table.

The six students in my classroom are ‘exceptional,’ they have varying special needs and some fall under the autism spectrum disorder umbrella. My students, just like all of us from time to time, struggle to regulate their emotions, handle frustration, and calm down. Transitions tend to be more difficult. Schedule changes often lead to meltdowns. I wanted to help them find some sort of coping mechanism.

Teaching children to breathe deep, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, helps them to quiet their mind, calm their nervous system, and reduce stress or anxiety. Yoga poses have fun names that children connect with and remember. Many of the children love to explore their own creativity and make up names for postures. The poses offer children an opportunity to physically move, follow directions, and improve their balance and flexibility. It offers children an opportunity to play and learn simultaneously in an environment that embraces their uniqueness and supports their strengths.

Since we began practicing yoga daily, I have seen great progress in my students’ ability to calm down, quiet their minds, tolerate change, and handle stress. One day in particular sticks out in my mind. My students were returning from Art class, a class they attend with their same-aged peers. They had a blast learning in a different setting, with a different teacher, and it is a nice break from the strict structure and routines in our classroom. Naturally, the students are louder and more excitable upon arriving to their usual setting, demonstrating behaviors that are less than ideal only to begin writing activities that are more difficult for my students. On this particular day, instead of jumping right into our usual groups, I decided to practice my own flexibility and take a few moments for deep breaths, and to calm down with my students. I decided we would practice yoga together. At their table, each student was instructed to put their hand on their belly, close their eyes, and we took three deep breaths together. They put their heads on their desk for “desk rest� and I played our quiet song. This is something they are able to do because we practice daily. It immediately got so quiet in my classroom that I could have heard a pin drop! When the song ended, the students were significantly calmer, less anxious, and ready to move on with the day. Imagine a classroom, and world, full of calmer, confident, more mindful children. I know I am a calmer, more patient teacher when my students are calm and happy. It is worth taking 5 minutes out of instructional time to create a healthy environment for our students.

There's something magical about spending time outside in nature, particularly for children. Having just spent about a month outside myself, I can speak to the peace and wonder it can bring into your soul. There is always something interesting to see, do, and explore. As an adult, this is one of the easiest spaces to prepare because so much is already in place! Start by asking "How will my child use this space?" Does she need a safe area to practice cruising, pulling up, and standing? Or perhaps he's interested in frogs, and wants to look for some in the pond down the street. Maybe you just want an area where your children can play while you attend to the garden. Your space will look different depending on what your child needs at her current developmental stage, and what you have available to you. Remember, a prepared space promotes safety, exploration, and independence while offering the tools for purposeful activity. Here are three examples of a prepared outdoor space so you can get a few ideas! This is a enclosed patio prepared for ages 2-5 years old. Currently, there are four activities set up: gardening, painting, brick scrubbing, and sweeping.

Here is a corner of a large yard with a family garden. This 3 year old can fill a small watering can on his own, and take care of the plants. He also has a clear place to put his things back when he's done using them.

This outdoor space is prepared for a 9 month old who is just starting to pull up and stand. The rough wood of the deck is covered with a soft rug, and there is sturdy, safe fencing for her to pull up on. The area is shaded and easily visible for supervised independent play.

Don't have outdoor space? Bring some of nature inside to you, or get out to a park, field, pond, or forest. For outings, I suggest packing a small bag or backpack. A child who can walk can also carry a small backpack for her own water, snacks, and found treasures.

Older children can carry a nature journal, insect catcher, guidebook, snacks, and water. I always pack things like sunscreen, first aid supplies, wipes, and a cell phone in my own bag just in case. You might also welcome a change of clothes or shoes, depending on what activities you are taking on.

You don't need to be an nature expert to encourage a love of nature, just a sense of curiosity! Keep your eyes open and comment on what you see. When I'm on a walk with toddlers, I comment about the trees changing color, the size of the leaves, any insect, bird, or mammal we see, the color of things, patterns of light, etc. With older children, I ask questions about why the bird is pecking the ground, or comment about the spider web glistening with dew drops. Get a few guidebooks if you don't know a robin from a blue jay, and learn along with your children! There are also many, many programs and resources available for learning about nature, science, and the environment. Check out your local state park, library, Park and Rec department, or school for information. Leanne Gray, M.Ed is the owner of The Prepared Environment, which supports families in creating an ideal environment for their children at home. She has over fifteen years experience working with children in both public, private, and Montessori schools, and is AMI primary trained. You can always contact her for personalized support and answers to your questions.

The Importance of Playing in Nature for Children The ‘X-Box Generation’, ‘Stranger Danger’, protective parenting and a shortage of safe, clean playing spaces are just some of the reasons children are not outside playing in nature as much as they should be.

Healthy Habits – Children who experience growing their own food outside are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables. Playing outside encourages them to engage in energetic physical activities, which helps keep them fit and at a healthy weight. Absorbing vitamin D from the sun will help strengthen their growing bones.

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As carers of children, we may prefer to keep them safe within the views of our watchful eyes but are this sedentary generation of children suffering as a result of the way society is going?​ Obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder, misbehaviors, weaker physical skills and co-ordination, inhibited creativity and a lack of social skills are some of the worrying trends arising amongst children today. Are our children innocent victims, made to suffer the consequences of a “progressive society” led primarily by us adults? Are we taking them further and further away from where our species has been growing and adapting throughout evolution? It appears so!​ On the positive side, we are now aware of this and so have the power to do something about it. Let’s first remind ourselves of some of the amazingly powerful benefits of spending time in nature:

Immunity Booster - Studies have shown that regular time spent in the great outdoors reduces stress levels, perhaps by reminding us there is a bigger picture to consider and enjoy. There also seems to be a co-relation between engaging in regular outdoor activities and an increased number of white blood cells in our bodies, helping to protect us from diseases. Improved Concentration – Attention Deficit problems and fatigue seem to be relieved from time spent outdoors. Children especially, need time and freedom to engage in exploration and large-motor activities. Their bodies are going through rapid growth, strengthening and conditioning. Once they have satisfied this need they will be better able to concentrate on smaller tasks and mental activities.

Creativity and Problem Solving – Children are blessed with a natural sense of awe and wonder about the world they live in. Granting them time outside and leaving them to their own devices, gives them the chance to explore, form ideas and hypothesis, become confident making discoveries and experience challenges which require them to use decision making skills. Qualities such as these will stand to them when they are older, in the ever progressive entrepreneurial work trend we are currently witnessing. Better Social Skills – Children are more likely to get creative and express their true natures when they are playing outside. Often they create games from nothing, learning lessons such as the need for rules and fair play. Some children may find themselves in the role of group leader, others, team-players, but each will discover what they can bring to ensure the success of the activities. Playing outside helps children to develop the skills needed for successful communication such as making eye-contact and listening and responding, which they wouldn’t experience to the same extent, whilst distracted playing video games, watching TV. and the likes, indoors.

If you care to research this topic further you will undoubtedly discover more benefits associated with spending time in nature. However, even if you are only reacting to this article I would urge you to think about and create more opportunities for the children in your care to experience outdoor play. Ways to Achieve this:​ •

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If safety is an issue, do your best to create an outdoor play space with a variety of learning opportunities. You could include sand and water play, muck and green areas with trees to climb and gardening opportunities, with tools at their disposal, playground swing and climbing sets, etc. Bring your child to a variety of outdoor environments including the beach, park, playgrounds, go for forest and mountain walks etc. Remember time outside is good for you too! If you can, enroll your children in community groups and activities such as sports teams, scouts, camps etc. If this doesn’t work for you however, try to at least accumulate a supply of cheap sports equipment such as balls, hoola hoops and skipping ropes and arrange play dates with friends.

As you can see, where there is a will, there is a way! One last thing I will ask you to seriously consider however, is outdoor safety. As adults and protectors of children, it is our duty to educate children on the possible dangers associated with outdoor play, including ‘stranger-danger’, water-safety, road safety, proper use of play-equipment, safety in numbers etc. It is important that children experience freedom and independence but it is also important to regulate, monitor and grant them this at a rate suited to their stage of development and knowledge.

Now in case you’ve forgotten just how good it feels, why not treat yourself to some invigorating time in the great outdoors. After-all, there’s a kid in all of us just dying to get out!

Sinead Hamill is a full-time Montessori Teacher and After- School Practitioner. She trained in St Nicholas Montessori College Dun- Laoighre for four years, where she qualified with a BA Honours Degree. She has also trained in vocal and performance coaching. Sinead has over ten years experience in the Montessori and Child Care Sector. Through her experience, Sinead has noticed how receptive children are to movement and music. With a diverse mix of children entering her class each year she has taught many foreign national children and children with additional educational needs such as Down Syndrome, Autism and Speech & Language difficulties. Over the years Sinead learned the best way to hold her pupils attention was through song and movement. This led her to create songs and rhymes, to accompany the lessons she was presenting. All of her pupils respond without exception very positively to this method of teaching which led Sinead to creating her own educational phonics and solar system CDs.

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This grounding exercise helps children feel stable, calm, and focused... By Jessie Klassen

Trees provide the perfect example of the importance of staying grounded to be strong. Grounding does for us what roots do for trees. When we are grounded, we feel strong and able to handle anything that comes our way, just like the roots of the trees hold them steady when the strong winds blow. Often times, simply being out in Nature, hugging a tree, or barefoot on the grass is enough to stabilize and calm our energy. But, sometimes we need to do more.

“Be a Tree” Try imagining yourself as a tree. Imagine your back as a trunk and that you have long roots that grow from the bottom of your feet, deep into the Earth. If you’re able, stand with feet planted on the ground. If you can’t stand, sitting or lying down will work too.

Grounding works well when we bring awareness to our bodies. To do this, squeeze your muscles as tight as you can and hold them like that for a moment. Holding your breath, clench your toes, your fists, your leg muscles, your butt cheeks, your tummy, and even your face. Then let it all out with a big exhale, imagining all this energy you were hanging on to is flowing out of your body, down through your roots, and into the Earth. Now shake any of this excess energy out of your hands. Repeat this exercise several times until you feel calm. If you can think of something in particular that has either upset you, or made you feel angry, you can imagine this anger, worry, or pain, all balled up in your hands. Make fists, and with a deep inhale, lift your fists up high above your head, and with a big, long exhale, drop your hands down and “throw” this anger into the Earth. Once again, shake this excess energy out of your hands. Repeat this several times until you no longer feel so angry or upset, and on the last time, do it very slowly and deliberately. We can also simply imagine ourselves with a trunk and tree roots reaching down into the Earth. Whenever we feel insecure, scared, nervous, or anxious, we can imagine everything that is worrying us to flow down our trunk, through our roots, and into the Earth where it is dissolved. This can be done anytime, anywhere, and is always helpful. Use your imagination and be as creative as you like with your “trunk” and your “roots”. Picture them anyway you like. There is no wrong way to do this, it just has to feel right for you.

Tips for staying grounded: Limit time spent on electronic devices, as these quickly un-ground our children. Although there is nothing wrong with learning how to use these devices, a little time on them goes a long way. When waiting somewhere, play “I spy” or ask one another questions. When on car trip, look out the window and notice your surroundings. Focusing on what is around us and what we notice with our physical senses helps to keep us grounded. Artificial stimulation such as television and media tend to cause our children to absorb energy that isn’t theirs, and often needs to be released through physical activity or an exercise such as this one. Limiting the time that you spend on social media will set an example for your children to follow.

A regular routine of daily chores is also crucial in keeping children grounded. Chores help develop problem-solving skills, self-confidence, a sense of accomplishment, and purpose. They will feel more connected to their life and the everyday tasks that life requires, as well as feel as though they are contributing to the family home. It is when doing chores that many lessons can be learned in an easy manner. Encourage conversation, share what you know, no matter how small it may seem. This engages children. When possible, involve your kids when you are doing chores or other everyday tasks. This is valuable time when you can connect. I heard many intriguing stories, learned valuable life lessons, and have had some of my most enjoyable memories from working alongside my parents. I hope that you have found this helpful! I would love to hear from you. You can contact me via my website While there, feel free to subscribe to my free weekly “ish” newsletter where I share advice, wisdom and lessons that I have learned from my life lived close to Nature.

About the author: Jessie Klassen is a writer, farmer, and the mother of 3 sensitive children. She is also a Reiki Master and empath herself, who is committed to raising her children in an accepting and spiritually-connected environment, grounded in Nature. Through her work, Jessie is inspired to help others connect with the magic of Nature to rediscover the magic of their own lives. Jessie released her first children’s book, “The Sapling” in 2017. It is the story of a little sapling who with the help of a wise old tree, overcomes her fears of growing big and becomes the tree she is meant to be! You can connect with Jessie at

By Lisa Raleigh – Fitness Expert – and New Mommy

When it comes to exercising through pregnancy, it’s not a case of one size fits all. Exercise opportunities depend largely on what your fitness levels are, which trimester you’re in and how you’re feelings. One thing that is unanimous, though, exercise is important. It can help minimize aches and pains, improve your sleep and even lower your risk of gestational diabetes and depression. Your labour and birth process could even improve! And getting back in shape afterwards won’t be as challenging. If you’re pregnant and discovering that your moods and energy levels aren’t as predictable as always, here are a few options that might make exercising easier for you.

Some General Exercise Rules: • Always consult your Ob-Gyn before new exercise habits. While it’s usually best to stick with what you were doing pre-pregnancy, there is no reason why new forms of fitness can’t be beneficial and safe. Whatever you choose, get the go ahead from the doc beforehand. • Improve your suncare habits, Pregnancy hormones can leave your skin more sensitive to sun damage. Always factor in an SPF when you’re exercising outdoors.

“Always consult your OB-Gyn…” • Plot your potty breaks. Bladder control is of prime concern as you move up in your trimesters. Whatever the exercise discipline, have an idea of how quickly you can get to a toilet while you’re there. • Avoid dehydration at all costs. Sufficient water is even more important during pregnancy, as low water levels could initiate early labour. • Listen to your body. It won’t be capable of what it was before pregnancy, and there will be days when a light walk is a better idea than an hour of hard exercise. Go with your gut feeling.

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If You’re Feeling TIRED Walking Why: Whether it’s first trimester nausea or final trimester baby weight that’s left you feeling exhausted, walking is the easiest exercise to undertake. It doesn’t take much mental commitment to head out for a walk, and you can add a little intensity with a few speedier intervals or gentle inclines if you feel like it. You can even up the ante with toning shoes for a slightly more intense walk and an increased number of calories burned. Add even more incentive by taking your route past kid-friendly parks. You’ll be too distracted by your research to notice you’re exercising.

“labour & birth process could improve” Precautions: Your feet are likely to swell during your pregnancy, especially during your final trimester. Tootight shoes can leave you susceptible to foot injuries and imbalance, so it’s better to take a size up. Also stick to familiar routes and avoid uneven terrain.

Swimming Why: You aren’t as susceptible to falling or injury, you won’t overheat and your joints will be spared 50% of the impact. Swimming is an ideal, low-impact exercise for women in the later stages of their term and feel a lot less strenuous than a session on the treadmill. Precautions: Pregnant women don’t only run a risk from high temperatures. They need to avoid chillier ones as well, so steer clear of freezing water. If you think you’re prone to slipping, wear aqua shoes in the shallower areas.

“In the second half of your pregnancy, avoid exaggerated twists and…” If You’re Feeling STRESSED! Yoga Why: The prospect of a new baby accompanied by changing hormones can leave you a little on the edgy side. Yoga not only strengthens your core and improves flexibility, with its emphasis on breathing and meditation fosters a sense of calm. New studies have even shown women’s depressive symptoms to decrease steadily during consistent yoga training, while mindfulness increased. Precautions: In the second half of your pregnancy, avoid exaggerated twists and movements that tug on your belly, as well as those that require you to lie on your back or belly for longer than a few seconds. Inversions like headstands and shoulder stands are a no-no.

Hiking Why: Hiking is a wonderful way to get outdoors and enjoy your environment while also improving your cardio and strength fitness. The fresh air and connection to nature will also work wonders on your mood, while a scenic path acts as a natural destressor. Precautions: Opt for a steady terrain – save the bundu-bashing or explorative routes for postpregnancy. Check that your current hiking shoes are still meeting your needs and consider taking hiking poles along for added stability. Always take a buddy along for your hikes too.

“…you’ll feel sexier with all the hip shaking…” If You’re Feeling ENERGENTIC! Zumba Why: Some of the lucky few pregnant women sail through their terms with little aggravation. If you’ve been blessed this way, you can have a blast with a Zumba session. The hip rolling and core conditioning in this standing ab workout works your pushing muscles, while the choreographed moves improve your ever-changing sense of coordination and balance. A lot of women lose confidence during their pregnancy, so you’ll feel sexier with all the hip shaking as an added bonus. You’ll also burn a ton of calories in the process.

Precautions: Stick to the indoor/studio classes versus natural environments with potentially uneven grounds. Your teacher should be trained in prenatal exercise, so make sure she shows you modifications to the usual moves, particular those with a lot of bending and twisting. These classes can also up your intensity without you realizing it, so make sure you can sing along to the music at all times. If you’re lucky, there may even be an aqua-Zumba in your area, which minimizes impact to nearly zero.

“Cycling can ease back pain, boost your mood and improve sleep” Spinning Why: Cycling can ease back pain, boost your mood and improve sleep, which means spinning does just the same. Spin classes are often a go-to exercise for those who love the ‘runner’s high’ and have plenty of energy to expend. Opting for a stationary bike versus cycling outdoors is also a necessary precaution during pregnancy. Precautions: Spinning classes can be intense – if you’re panting or gasping for breath you need to take it down a notch. Pregnancy is also not the time to join the keen-beans who stand during their spinning session, as it adds intensity and can stress extraflexible joints. If you’re finding your lower back is suffering, relieve the tension by sitting back more – you’ll need to adjust the handlebars and bring them in a little closer to you.

If You’re Feeling STRONG Your normal strength routine Why: If you were training hard before your pregnancy, there is no reason not to stay in the gym. Strength training is one of the best ways to minimize aches and pains, and weight machines are great as they control your range of motion, which is important as your joints increase in flexibility. Building upper body strength also helps with the biomechanics of motherhood – think lifting, bending and holding. A few modifications are all you need for a safe session, as well as aiming to maintain rather than build muscle. Precautions: Steer clear of machines with pads that press on your belly, and give any exercises with overhead lifts a skip – these can increase the curve in your lower spine during pregnancy. Make sure that any advice you seek on modifying your workouts comes from a credible professional.

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Pilates Why: Pilates helps maintain a powerful core, which will support your growing belly, minimize back pain and give you strength during delivery. It is also an excellent non-impact form of strength training that boosts your mood and energy. Precautions: There is a lot of mat work in Pilates, which will mean modifications as you progress through your pregnancy. Make sure your Pilates instructor is killed in prenatal trainer, or seek out a pregnancy-focused class. An angled foam spine support (found in most Pilates studios) will help keep your head higher than your belly during flat back exercises.

“…make sure your trainer comes highly recommended by other moms-to-be.”

If You’re Feeling NERVOUS Prenatal fitness classes Why: Pregnancy is not a smooth trip for many, and many moms are often nervous – especially if it’s their first time. If you have access to prenatal exercise classes, sign up! Not only are the workouts modified for your pregnancy for a guaranteed safe experience, you’ll have the support of other moms-to-be in the class who are also going through what you’re going through. Precautions: Almost none! If you’ve checked out the credibility of the instructor, you should be in very safe hands. Prenatal instructors will also be more sensitive to your needs and moods than the average instructor.

Personal training Why: If you’re determined to keep fit, sessions with a personal trainer are one of the safest ways to do it. You enjoy the company of an expert when it comes to modifying traditional exercises, and you’ll have the security of someone double checking your safety the whole way through your session. Precautions: Credentials are a big one – make sure your trainer comes highly recommended by other moms-to-be. This article is brought to you by Lisa Raleigh and her new online platform, Mumentoes. For more pregnancy and family content, visit: Lisa Raleigh Fitness Trend Influencer, Wellness Activist, TV Personality, Author, Lifestyle and Wellness Expert email: - Facebook @LisaRaleighSA – Twitter LisaRaleighTV – Youtube

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TV Personality, Author, Lifestyle & Wellness Expert Conscious Life Magazine LisaRaleighSA – Twitter

Being on full-time toddler patrol can make exercise seem impossible. The good news is that if you’re looking after your little one and in need of a workout, the two can go hand-in-hand. Pop your youngster in the stroller and head outdoors for this functional and effective stroller workout. Inclines and declines are an important feature, so head out to a hilly spot. Safety first: make sure the brakes on your stroller are strong and reliable before you get started.

Find an incline and face your stroller towards you, locking the brakes as you position yourself. Line the ground with a towel and lie on your back, propping yourself up on your elbows if you prefer. Start with your knees bent and feet propped up on the stroller at your baby’s feet. Unlock the brakes and perform a leg press, pushing your feet forward until almost straight. Pause for a moment then return to your starting position. Aim for 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

Start with both hands resting on the stroller bar in front of you. Slowly raise your left leg up and back, leaning your torso forward and pushing the stroller forward as you do. Once you’ve formed a straight line with your left leg and body, rise up onto the toes of your right foot. Hold for a moment then lower back down and return to your starting position. Aim for 3 sets of 10-15 reps with each leg.

Stand with the stroller on your right side and feet hip-width apart. Use your right hand to push the stroller away from you, whilst reaching overhead in the same direction with your left arm. Pause when your right arm is full extended, then pull the stroller back in to your starting position. Aim for 3 sets of 10-15 reps with each side.

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Stand on a gentle decline, with your arms on the stroller bar in front of you, shoulder-width apart. Starting with arms fully extended, slowly pull the stroller to you, pinching your shoulder blades together as you do. Pause for a moment then return to your starting position. Aim for 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

Now stand on a gentle incline, with your arms on the stroller bar in front of you. Starting with your arms partially bent, push the stroller ahead of you until your arms are straight. Pause for a moment then draw the stroller back in towards you. Keep your arms closer together to work your arms, and further apart to work your chest.

With the brakes of your stroller locked, get into plank position in front of your baby. Keeping your core muscles and torso tight, lift up on arm at a time for a minimum of 5-10 seconds. You can tickle baby’s toes or play peek-a-boo whilst you do this. Swap arms and repeat. Aim for 3 sets with each arm.

*Make it harder: Lift one leg up at a time and hold for a more challenging move.

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12 Ways for Dad to Bond with Baby Bonding with a newborn can be overwhelming, especially for dad. We've gathered a few fun ways for him to spend a little extra time with his little one •Cradle Baby Close

•Make Silly Faces

•When mom is breastfeeding baby she cuddles him close to her chest and baby has a perfect view into her eyes. When you are bottlefeeding him make sure to hold him in the same position, allowing your little one to gaze up at you.

•You can definitely be the funny guy. Start by just making silly faces that will make your baby glow with a smile. As your baby gets older try fun games like peekaboo.

•Take the Night Shift •If you aren't home during the day to help soothe baby's troubles, become the "rescuer of the night" when baby cries. This will give you and baby precious alone time and give mom the chance to catch some extra zzz's. Be sure mom has left a few bottles in the fridge for late-night feedings.

•Soothe Her Tears •Even though it may be tempting to hand a crying baby back to Mom, take a try at soothing her tears (unless she's hungry, of course). Try singing to her, walking her around, gently rocking, or find the closest pacifier for her to suck on. She must learn that Mom isn't the only one who can give her what she needs.

•Take Him for a Walk •Babies love fresh air, so take your little bundle for a stroll around the block. Try using a sling or carrier instead of your stroller. This will keep baby close to you throughout the walk. Just be sure baby is slathered in sunscreen if it's hot outside and bundled up if it's a little chilly.

•Try a Baby Massage •Babies respond to touch, and a simple way to soothe and relax them is with a baby massage. When your baby is quiet and happy (you won't want to try it on a fussy baby) take 10 to 15 minutes to gently rub her legs, belly, arms, and neck.

•Special Play Time •Set aside time every night to play with your little guy. Make it part of his daily routine, so when you come home from work he expects his daddy time.

•Daddy Dance Party •Babies love music and they love to dance. Even when your baby is just a few months old you can start having dance parties. Turn on some music (or sing a special song) then sway around the room with baby. As your baby gets older you can help her stand and dance (a.k.a. bounce) till she is able to groove to her own moves.

•Take On Diaper Duty •You may want this to be a mommy-only task, but diaper duty is also a time to bond. Even though it may be a little smelly, you get to talk to her and make silly noises as she gets a fresh change.

•Be a Part of the Bedtime Routine •A consistent bedtime schedule is very important to helping your baby sleep through the night. Choose a part of the routine you want to be involved in like bath time. This will help baby understand that when Dad says its bath time, it's will be bedtime soon too.

Kaelin Zawilinski is a decorating lover, foodie wanna-be, preppy girl, loving wife, dog mom, and Editor of Better Homes and Gardens. For more super reading follow the link:

•Take a Sick Day •When your baby gets ill it's important for you to nurture him too -- so take a day off to stay home with baby. Try to go to healthy doctor checkups too, so you can hear from the doctor how he's developing and growing.

•Cleaning Time •Keep baby close by strapping on the carrier and toting him around while you help with household chores like vacuuming. Plus its two things mom loves: baby bonding with his daddy and help cleaning house.

By Sergio Salotto

Raising a child is possibly one of the most beautiful, exciting, interesting, but challenging, difficult and responsible tasks in life for a parent. For some parents, the task looms so large and scary, that it drives them to rather give the child up for adoption. Having a child – especially the first – can and often does unexpectedly turn the parent’s lives and routines totally upside down. It takes away the freedom and independence they enjoyed; the child becomes the centre of their world; it is demanding and needy; there may be little to no time for themselves; and so on.

What begins as a wonderful and exciting journey, for many, this may change and become a state of frustration, anxiety, stress, anger, or depression, which start surfacing and begin to strain the bonds of the relationship. If things were fine before baby came along, the child is likely be held responsible for the issues the arise between the parents. In many cases, the child becomes the object upon which the parents vent their dissatisfaction – with some cases even resulting in horrific abuse and death of the child. But there is another level of “abuse” we practice that we do not recognise as such because it does not fall in the categories of being physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. Instead, it is considered and accepted to be good, responsible parenting – as I elaborate below.

But is that what unconditional acceptance and love of self is really all about? The part of conceiving a child is generally one of joy and fun. When it is confirmed that mom is pregnant, there is even greater joy. But at the same time, the realisation begins to set in of the responsibilities that are about to be taken on – creating the ideal home environment, afford it the best education, provide an upbringing the child can one day be proud of, and of course someone the parents will be proud of. It is generally believed that new-born children are born with a blank mind, that they know nothing about life; that as parents we “own” it and so are entitled to decide what is right for the child. Parents thus take on the role and responsibility of ensuring the child is taught, equipped and educated about all its needs to be successful and socially acceptable. These teachings will take the form of schooling, religious instruction, guidance for conforming to social norms and values, acceptable behaviour and all the many other things we need in life.

As a child, of course, we have no idea of our parents’ ideals or the plans they have for us. We just do things in the only way we know. Such as:  Crying when we are hungry, have a full nappy, want attention – don’t like to be left alone.  Eating our food with our hands; pounding our hand into the plate of food and make it splatters all over (great fun).  Not welcoming mummy, daddy, granny, grandpa with a hug and kiss – we might more readily hug and kiss the dog ... no disrespect intended; we just found the dog to be more important in that moment (isn’t that what free choice is about?).  Knocking things off the coffee table out of curiosity to see what happens.  Throwing a tantrum in the middle of the supermarket – do we really care or worry about what other people think? Hell no, we just want what we want.

To our parents, this is misbehaving, naughtiness, disrespect. Something they feel must be corrected, taught manners, obedience and discipline. How do they achieve this? By reprimand and punishment – physical, emotional, screaming and shouting, threatening and all the many things most of us will likely have experienced in our childhood. As we grow and learn to talk, we note that what we say is considered pretty insignificant; we are not given the space to express what we feel or want – even if we are, no one really listens. And our parents keep reminding us that they know what is best for us. As a child, how can we argue or question that? Through these experiences we begin to wonder, question and eventually conclude that maybe the way we are is simply not enough; and we internalise the belief that we are "not good enough." This leads to us deciding that unless we change, we will not be accepted and loved - our greatest fundamental fear and need. In order to make it with our parents (be accepted and loved), we decided that perhaps we need to change our behaviour and attitudes to conform and meet their expectations of how we ought to be (our first compromise on who we truly are).

Then one day we are sent off to school – a daunting and terrifying step for some children, an exciting “adventure” for others. In this new environment we encounter other children, teachers, rules and regulations, disciplines, etc. For example: Learning to read and write.  Learning the multiplication tables et al through repetition.  Having to pass tests and exams to prove our level of competence, intellect and acceptability  Behave in class in a manner that is acceptable to the teacher, conform to the school’s rules and regulations else we are punished – from both the school and (likely) our parents (we are so terrible).  If our standard of work is not to the level of others, we get classified as "abnormal", in need of specialized education or psychological assessment – measured against what society has determined to be the accepted norm.  No one is really interested in our unique individuality and talents. We are required to meet and conform to the expectations of our teachers, peers and school environment.

From the above we realise that to be accepted, we need to behave and do things in the required manner if we are to avoid rejection and punishment. We also learn that in these social environments, if we do not do things as expected and required, we again will not be recognised and accepted. And so we experience how also in this environment we are not allowed to be ourselves – who we are. All of which reinforces our feelings and belief that perhaps we are truly just, "not good enough" – a belief that is becoming more and more our reality. We also come to experience and realise that this cycle of needing to conform does not end at the school going years. Even as adults we experience and face the same situation in our world of business, politics, religion, and ... practically every other social environment. The requirement to compromise ourselves for the sake of being accepted eventually becomes second nature. And this ultimately results in us living and experiencing our life as victims of our circumstances; unable to exercise freedom of choice to be who we really are. The same way it has been for our parents; and their parents; and their parent’s parents. To address these “challenges” in a constructive and meaningful manner, we need to reassess the parenting processes we are practicing - as handed down from generation to generation. And unless we stop, reconsider and have the willingness to change, we shall continue to exacerbate the problem and also shall pass on the same teachings and practices to our children for their children. Our role and responsibility towards our children is far greater than what we are doing. The way we are doing things is, in my view, comparatively easy to do because all it requires is for us to exercise control.

What we need to recognise is that our children do not belong to us, we do not “own” them. Whether we believe that children are sent to us by God, or that they chose us as their parents, or whatever other belief one may identify with, what all of us ought to be doing is to feel honoured and respectful of having been granted the privilege to conceive and give birth to such a wondrous creation and Being of “God”. Our responsibility therefore should be one of guiding and helping our children to be who they really are by creating an environment that is supportive and allows them to manifest, or “showcase” who and what each child brings to this life. We should not be in fear of letting go of the beliefs we are holding on to; want to hold on to our senses of rightness at all costs; we need to have the willingness to be wrong and create a truly win-win environment where everyone can be who they really are – unconditionally.

In the words of Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet which possibly sum all this up best:

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.” ― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Vegan Diet “The Healthy Natural Alternative�

Article by Vondis

A VEGAN DIET FOR YOUR DOG – A FIRST IN SOUTH AFRICA Vegans and vegetarians are often faced with the dilemma of choosing the best diet to feed their companion canines, taking into consideration not only their own ethics, but also the best interests of the dog/s they are taking care of.

Fortunately, even though many people would assume that a dog couldn't possibly be fed a 100% vegan diet, nothing could be further from the truth! Despite descending from wolves, the domestic dog is classified as an omnivore. The classification in the Order Carnivora does not necessarily mean that a dog's diet must be restricted to meat.

Unlike an obligate carnivore, a dog is neither dependent on meat-specific protein nor a very high level of protein in order to fulfill its basic dietary requirements. Dogs are able to healthily digest a variety of foods including vegetables and grains, and in fact dogs can consume a large proportion of these in their diet. In the wild, canines often eat available plants and fruits.

As a matter of interest, there is even one dog which could completely be a Vegetarian and that is the Chow Chow. The Chow Chow originated in China (Tibet) where it was raised as a meat source for human consumption. Since the Chow Chow was used as a meat source for human consumption, it was fed a diet of grains and vegetables - to produce a tender marbled meat. Some may still argue that a vegan diet for a dog is unnatural in some way, but its important to note that in nature dogs wouldn't eat anything like what is commonly found nowadays - in a can or in pellet form.. Most commercial pet food is made of very questionable meats, not fit for human consumption, that would otherwise be thrown away. These foods are filled with preservatives and other additives that, over time, can detriment the health of your pet. Indeed, studies conducted on pets fed commercial meat pet food reveal that diet-related complications can include "kidney, liver, heart, neurological, visual, neuromuscular and skin disease, bleeding disorders, birth defects, compromised immune system and infectious disease.“ So, not only is it possible to feed dogs a nonmeat diet, it can also be very nutritious and balanced. In Europe, there are plenty of commercially available, healthy vegan diets. There is no reason why vegan / vegetarian pet lovers in our country shouldn't have the same choice. For this reason Vondis Holistic Pet Nutrition has developed a well researched balanced Vegan diet, where you can be assured that your companion will receive all the correct nutrition and thus enable them to lead happier, healthier lives.

Vegan Diet Recipe and Nutritional Value In presenting any nutritious meal for human or pet, meat or vegan, there are two important considerations. The cooking method which you use to prepare your food and the other is the quality and choice of ingredients.

Vondis has always adopted scientific procedures to prepare the food and therefore, certain ingredients are left to simmer on a low heat and there are some that are included raw. This very special Vondi’s cooking process ensures maximum nutritional value and digestibility. In choosing the ingredients, we have utilized scientific and nutritional data to formulate a recipe that is totally balanced and nutritious and that will ensure a healthier and longer life. Some of the ingredients include brown rice, millet, lentils, peas, barley, wheat germ, rolled oats, beetroot, butternut, sweet potato, carrots and a variety of freshly picked herbs. To ensure the perfect balance we also supplemented with calcium gluconate, zinc gluconate, taurine, yeast, lecithin, kelp, dandelion and vitamin c. So, not only is it possible to feed dogs a nonmeat diet, it can also be very nutritious and balanced. In fact, what started out as diet for moral and ethical reasons, has now be become popular for the treatment of ailments like skin disorders, arthritic problems and bladder disorders.

NOTE: Vondis Holistic Pet Nutrition non vegetarian meals include Beef, Chicken, Mutton, Ostrich and Special Chicken for Sensitive Skin.

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

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

Conscious Life Magazine

Book Review by Heidi van Staden

THE DEEP WELL OF TIME By Michael Dorer In 2009, I had my first experience of Montessori stories from Mr. Dorer in Cape Town at the South African Montessori Association conference. Hearing them told, with such detail, drama and passion was enthralling. Everyone loves stories and it is in our African blood to love being told stories. Having a natural storyteller bring to life the Montessori materials and concepts in such a dramatic and imaginative way inspired my own inner story-telling diva. I attempted after that encounter to retell those fabulous stories as best I could. The children loved them none-the-less. Marigold and her farm-measuring triumph, a potter named Tan and his dilemma with his beautiful (but broken) plate and the wonderfully expressive story introducing the Euclidean geometry concepts were told to them over and over. In reading ‘The Deep Well of Time’ for this review, I was transported back to the beginning of time with the Great Lesson stories, and was especially gratified to find the elusive Great River story included. It is easy to imagine a group of elementary children getting caught up in the events at the Adjective’s Picnic, and knowing that they will always know, forever more exactly what an adjective is and how it functions. Mr. Dorer has also included stories from his colleagues Larry Schaefer and Jonathan Wolff - both of whom have regaled us at South African Montessori Association conferences as well. The great American novelist, Toni Morrisson said, “If there is a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” Mr. Dorer has written the stories that we all want to hear. These are stories that will create a bond between the teacher and the child and more importantly between the Montessori materials and the child. The countless children that these extraordinary gems will touch in times to come is truly a gift. I reckon Maria Montessori is smiling, she may even be saying, “Michael, tu racconti le storie grande!”

Heidi van Staden 29.06.2016


Conscious Life Magazine

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Montessori Mag-nificence April 2018 Issue 43  

April Free Online Mag: Montessori & Fantasy Play; Grounding Exercises for Children; Calm Bodies, Calm Minds; Workouts for Mums; and much mor...

Montessori Mag-nificence April 2018 Issue 43  

April Free Online Mag: Montessori & Fantasy Play; Grounding Exercises for Children; Calm Bodies, Calm Minds; Workouts for Mums; and much mor...