Is Montessori right for my child?

To quote Maria Montessori: “… Education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher’s task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child.”

Here are few reasons why a Montessori maybe a right fit for your child

Montessori schools are most suited to children in families where there is respect for the child, the parent set few but clear limits, and the child learns to respect and follow these limits. It won’t work if you let the child do what they want and when they want or if you are just the opposite and are way too strict too. Its about a balanced approach.

It doesn’t matter what is the learning style for your child. Montessori works for all children. The materials offers opportunities to learn visually, aurally, kinaesthetically (through touch) and even verbally. Kenisha need both visual and touch and feel so this works well for her!

I love how a Montessori Class is quite quiet! The children seem focused on their activities without the teacher having to yell to calm them down. Yet they are allowed to move around in the class, which is great for toddlers who can’t sit in one place for too long, something I truly appreciate

Most articles will say that Montessori programs are especially good for children who are self-directed, can work independently for extended lengths of time, and work well alone or in small groups. But in my opinion a Montessari teacher plays a huge role to bring all children to be independent over a period of time at their own pace.

The focus in Montessori curriculum is on individual learning. This allows children to work at their own pace and can also provide a healthy environment for special needs children.

Is a Montessori School Right for Your Child? – Take this Quiz by Eden Prairie Montessori

Montessori vs Traditional School

Personally I cannot say which one is better than the other because they both are unique ways to promote development and education. I think its truly a personal choice every parent needs to make.

To sum up here is a an excerpt that helps to put it in perspective

“A traditional school environment tends to be highly structured in terms of time—if you know what time it is, you know what the children are doing—but it’s loosely structured in terms of space. Montessori is the reverse: highly structured in space and loosely structured in time. If you know where children are in the room, you know what they’re doing, but the time is free. In play-based child care, teachers tend to swing between letting the children play and doing teaching activities.”

Choosing a Montessori School?

If you are interested in supporting the development of giftedness, creativity, and talent in your children then take a look at the Montessori options available in your vicinity

If you choose to send your child to a Montessori school,

  1. Make sure the school you’ve chosen is affiliated with and accredited by a Montessori organization. Also check about the
  2. Tour the school and talk with your child’s teacher/principal to determine if it is the right fit for your family.
  3. Distance/proximity plus an additional Daycare within the premise is perfect for working parents (that’s how we made our pick)
  4. To see the true difference of a Montessori education prepare to keep the child all through early years until they are ready for class 1.
  5. Keep in mind your finances and your future plans for your childs education. This will also help you decide whether you prefer Montessori or another board.

If you’re considering Montessori versus a traditional school for your child, do your research, both in person and online. I recommend you talk to parents who’ve sent to both schools you’re considering. Your child’s education is the most important gift you’ll give him, so choose wisely. No pressure or anything.

If you enjoyed this article you may be interested to Montessori Classroom at Home for Toddlers -The Easy Setup Guide read and Why I chose to send my 2 year old to a Montessori preschool?

What is your perspective on Montessori? Do share in comments 🙂

My Entrepreneur Journey Story

How did I become an Entrepreneur? What led me to follow my passion? How was my journey? What were my challenges? Why did I decide to part ways?

I have tried to answer all your questions in this blog. If you are someone who wishes to start her own venture or maybe make some bucks from your passion, I hope reading this blog brings in some perspective. And if it does. Dont forget to comment and share with me 🙂

Background :

I hail from a simple family with Ex Army Officer as my dad and a Mom who decided that her kids were her full time job. This is important to know for many who thought I came from a business class family or received any help in any way from my family apart from sheer encouragement and support in my journey to prove myself.

Though I was always inclined towards a creative line there was not enough options and consultation to discover the right course or education. During my B.com when my parent’s saw me distressed not enjoying what I was doing I was given a chance to prepare and appear for NIFT. But fashion was not my thing and I realized it later of course when I didn’t make it.  I went ahead and completed my MBA in marketing from Symbiosis Pune in 2007 and then joined a high paying job at a leading IT MNC. It was but the natural flow of things. I had never thought I would be doing anything more than a corporate job. 4 years into the Job and I realized I wasn’t cut for the hardcore politics and follow the lead. Plus IT stopped interesting me I guess. I think it was around the same time things changed and for good.

I have been passionate about craft ever since I was a kid. While we always had an Archie’s store in the vicinity to pick up cards for special occasions, it did not allow us to customize it beyond a certain point. And I was always keen on creating a hand-made card with customized messaging, as I always believe it adds that additional human element to the entire process of gifting. While I loved everything to do with paper craft, people often mixed it up with a more widely known form of paper art, which is Origami. However, the fundamental difference between the two is that the traditional concept of Origami uses only one piece of paper to create shapes without the use of any scissors or glue. However, paper craft gives you a larger room to experiment by deploying various techniques on paper or card as the primary artistic medium for creating three dimensional objects as well.

As a papercraft artist I used various kinds of craft supplies and tools to create more professional looking handmade cards, scrapbooks, altered items, home décor which gives my work a fun and free-spirited feel.

I made handmade invites, favour boxes, 2D/3D greeting cards, quilled paper art, scrapbooks for all occasions, altered arts like Book ends, wall hangings and home décor products out of paper and related products. Click here to see my work – http://www.craftingqueen.in/

What was the big idea behind starting Lulupu.com? Was there something that inspired me to do this?

In 2009, I relocated to Bangalore for an assignment. Staying away from home with not too many friends around, I decided to use my free time to explore my favourite hobby that I relished as a child – hand-made greeting cards. My mother’s birthday was approaching and I decided to visit a stationary shop to source the raw material. That’s when I spotted the colourful Quilling strips and brought a few of them. I navigated through a few DIY videos on YouTube to understand the technique better. As time progressed, I became extremely addicted to this form of paper craft and simultaneously started exploring other forms as well. I began a blog called www.craftingqueen.in  and kept updating it with my latest work and this gave me an opportunity to interact with other paper crafters not just in India, but across the globe. While the basic material was available in India, for moving to the next level most of the tools and material had to be sourced from abroad. I saw a lot of crafters like me relying on their friends and relatives to get them these products while returning from a trip to United States. It took me a lot of patience to source products through this channel. This is when I decided to create an online store which will give crafters across India an opportunity to purchase these products locally. Initially I used a blog called www.craftignqueenstore.blogspot.in to sell the products. Looking at the traffic and the demand I decided to go the ecommerce way and Lulupu.com was born on March 1st, 2012.

At this point I would like to throw light on one of the segments of Lulupu.com – The Design Team. This special team comprised of talented crafter across the country, who focus on providing a platform to build a community of like-minded crafters. To be a part of this team, a crafter had to qualify the set of filters or parameters decided by us.

Here is our blog that was build with so much love- BLOG

 

 What does one require to set up a business? 

Firstly, it is not a rocket science that if you set up a business which you are extremely passionate about, it works to your advantage as you do not see it as a purely money minting venture. In my case, my knowledge and passion gave me the ability to guide and help beginners and amateurs in paper craft over and above the products specifications and pricing.

Secondly, it is extremely important to register your business and have all the mandatory licenses / permissions. This could be for import/export, trademark or even the GST process. It ensures that your customers are not getting cheated and are engaging with a brand which is ethical and abides by laws of the country.

Thirdly, it is important to know the pulse of your customers and keep a track of changing trends in your industry. Be on your toes!!!

Last but not the least; one has to be mentally strong to face all sorts of challenges. A new venture is demanding and the market is very competitive.

Any challenges you faced in starting this business?

Honestly, I began as an amateur with a lot of enthusiasm and desire to make a difference. My husband encouraged me to focus on my strengths to create the building blocks for Lulupu.com. While he is not an avid crafter, he was able to provide me with a strategic perspective to create a concrete roadmap and structure to set up and grow this initiative. We spent a lot of time in ideating and using consumer insights to prepare the framework which would work well for the growing paper craft community in India. This took us almost a year along with setting up of backend operations before finally launching Lulupu.com on 1st march 2012.

I think one of the biggest challenges was to start from the scratch. I had no idea how to run a business or put it up in the first place. The journey has been tiring and at times challenging enough to give up hope. It’s the passion to do what I love to push me this far.

Our basic idea behind Lulupu.com was aimed at overcoming the biggest challenge faced by paper crafters across the country i.e. sourcing products from global brands locally. Since it is an extremely niche and unorganized industry, a lot of people compare the prices of the products being offered in India with the ones in western countries. But the customers also overlook the fact that the papercraft industry is at a very advanced level in these markets. At the same time for a registered business like ours with proper sales licenses in India, there are innumerable additional costs incurred which add on to the final costing. In a price sensitive market, we were, nevertheless, constantly working towards exploring more efficient and cost effective supply chain to ensure our customers get their favourite products at the most competitive rates without compromising on the quality. What people take time to understand is that they can now order these products right at their doorsteps by a mere click and also opt to pay once they have checked and confirmed the order! They no longer have to rely on their friends / relatives to travel to US / UK to order these products and wait for months before they receive them! Needless to say they don’t have to pay a bomb to local sellers who more than often dupe them with defective pieces or exorbitantly priced items.

 

Why did you close the store after 5 successful years?

When I conceived in 2014 October, I was put on complete bed rest. I somehow managed to continue as I had hired one intern to work on the admin front. Nonetheless, my health did impact the business. I took a 3 month break when I delivered Kenisha and coming back with a bang wasn’t easy. I felt torn apart between my needy baby and my needy business. It was also a time when the market was getting highly unorganized with alot of people jumping into the industry without any knowledge and spoiling the market. I was finding it difficult to work and realised its time to let go. I knew I didn’t have the finances and the time anymore. The baby definitely took priority and I have no regrets. I left the market in a good note and made a name for myself!

Slide below to read few of the published articles I could find

So there you go, that was my journey as an Entrepreneur and I cant wait to hear what you have to say? Where are you stuck? Do you have your big idea in place? Would you need any support from me? Tell me in comments what more I can share? Please be specific and if i have the expertise am happy to share 🙂

 

Travel Food ideas for Babies and Toddlers

Travelling with babies and toddlers is such a joy but also a bit tricky! Several of my travel posts had queries of mom with young babies asking what I used to feed Kenisha during our travels, especially international where food could be different and unique sometimes. Its an unsaid to rule to always be equipped with snacks and water when heading out. It’s a MUST in your diaper bags. Save yourself from tantrums and upset little humans and read on to see how you can enjoy a vacation by being equipped with simple an easy travel friendly food.

Babies up to 1 year old have it the easiest!

If you have a baby under 1 and are breastfeeding, you are going to have the easiest time ever! It is so easy to feed on the go, anywhere and anytime. For formula babies its best is to carry Thermos just like you do when you head out. Ensure you carry enough Formula to last until and beyond the trip. It’s also a good idea to research if this brand or variety is available in the country you are travelling too.

If your baby is eating small meals looks out for ideas from the list below. Oly a few maybe more suitable than the rest

Travel friendly Food for babies 1-3

If you look around there will always be more and enough food options even abroad. Basic healthy food can include but not limited to

  1. Fruits: any country will have enough and more fruit options. If you stay at a hotel your breakfast will always have fresh fruit. Breakfast should be a good time to feed the baby well. Pick an extra banana or orange to carry in your bag. Also carry a small plastic box on which you can carry a tiny portion for next 2-3 hours feed. For babies you can mash these fruits. Its not a bad idea to carry a foldable knife and a small spoon along.
  2. Yogurt and Cheese: Find 24/7 kind of super marts which will have small sized flavoured yogurts and simple drinks. Avoid sugar loaded chips and drinks.
  3. Dry Fruits – This is something we always carry for any travel. A big mix bag for all of us in fact. Nuts help in quick hunger and boost energy levels immediately.
  4. Cereal Packs – I carried small packs of kellogs chocos and similar cereals. I do find them a bit high on sugar but they make for a great snack when you need a good sugar kick. Alternate low sugar – high fiber cereals are a good option
  5. Granola Bars –Its a great idea to actually make and carry a nice big stock of homemade granola bar. As a last resort some store bought ones
  6. Instant Packed foods – while i cannot say if this is super healthy, it sure comes as a life saver in dire situations. We have carried MTR packs for instant upma, poha and few soup packs. This has been a great way to begin lazy days at the room or even outside. All you need a hot water to eat any of these.
  7. Airbnb options – We now look for Airbnb optiosnw hich offer us access to kitchen. This means we can store food in the fridge and have a lot more options during our stay. This indeed has been our best experience so far with a baby and I highly recommend this over hotels!

But the fun part is always to enjoy and explore new foods! Watch out for allergies and stay safe. Since Kenisha was a BLW baby we always allowed her to try out new things. Nonetheless the above it has been of great help!

Did you find his article useful? comment below and let us know your travel food ideas for babies and toddlers 1-3 years old!

How to begin Baby Led Weaning?

Just like a milestone every mom waits for the 6 month mark to begin solid food for babies. Earlier we all followed the traditional weaning methods but slowly with more and more moms being connected, the awareness of Baby Led Weaning has taken over like a wave.

Trying a steamed carrot as we begin BLW

In 2015, December, when I began my journey to follow BLW, I was at my mom’s place and it was a complete alien term to my parents. It took me a lot of explaining that what I was attempting was suitable and child friendly. Since then I have taken it up to share my experience with fellow new moms and help them understand the concept and its benefits.

 

 

 

 

What is Baby Led weaning (or BLW)?

The key difference in Baby Led weaning is to directly offer finger foods and pre loaded spoons, bypassing the mushed up or pureed food. While in traditional feeding we let the child learn to swallow and later learn to chew, here we help the child to first learn to chew and slowly learn to swallow the food. Most importantly its “baby led” implying giving control to the babies on what and how much to eat. (the toughest part for the parents to understand).

Below Kenisha around 9-10 months old enjoying her food explorations

When can I begin Baby Led weaning?

  1. Baby must be at least 6 months old. The main reason being that by this age “most “babies learn to sit unsupported and have lost the tongue thrust reflex. Also they develop grasping and are able to hold on to small objects hence self feeding becomes easier.
  2. Sitting unaided mean
    1. Being able to sit unassisted for few seconds assisted by hands. This is critical as it ensures that the food pipe is not blocked and there are lesser chocking hazards.
    2. You can make them sit in your lap as sitting independently comes pretty later
    3. Baby should be in a upright/straight position. It would be a great idea to buy a booster or a highchair in the long run if possible.
  3. Tongue thrust reflex – Ideally most babies lose baby tongue thrust reflex between four and six months of age. This means, when you place food on your baby’s tongue or lips, the tongue doesn’t come forward to push the food away, so she can take it in more easily. It also implies that your baby is healthy and developing well.
  4. Showing interest in food? Yes, this is a huge sign. Babies will find your plates exciting and often try to reach out. It means they want to explore and a perfect way to introduce solids

Please remember baby must be at least 6 months old.  And there is absolutely no reason to fret in case your baby still doesn’t show the signs of readiness. It’s not necessary that there is a magical change at 6 month mark. We began our journey at 6 months 2 weeks plus. Remember that breast milk/formula milk will be their main source of nutrition until a year and beyond.

Holidays made fun with a BLW baby

Getting started

  1. Read, read and then read some more! – I cannot really emphasize this anymore! It’s good to have found an experienced mom in the neighborhood to help you but I strongly urge you to read several articles on this concept and watch few videos if possible. It’s amazing to see those tiny ones enjoying their first bites.
  2. Bite size food does the trick. Keep a chip as a benchmark so the baby can hold and eat. As he works up you can also reduce the size as the pincher grip picks up.
  3. Soft and easy to eat. I was always confused what should the consistency of the food be like. How soft? Because then it could result being in squashy and the baby may not be able to hold it? So someone once told me “Kaju Katli”(Indian soft sweet) consistency. You can hold it between your thumb and index finger and with some pressure squish it too. That’s what we are looking at.
  4. BLW doesn’t really require special equipments but I personally feel having a high chair or a booster seat is an added advantage. I for one picked a booster seat by chicco as I found it less space consuming and a perfect travel companion when we would eat out at restaurants. It was really a helpful. At 2 we used it directly on the main table, ie minus the tray. And it was put into use until she was almost 3. Total moneys worth!
  5. BLW is about eating together as a family! So baby eats what you eat (minus salt and sugar at least he is an year old ) We always dropped a small portion out and added more spices to our. Say Dal or a veggie.
  6. If you do get a high chair or booster seat don’t consider getting a bowl. Keep the tray clean and just keep 2-3 pieces of food at a time to avoid overwhelming the child.
  7. No putting food in the childs mouth. Let them try and pick up some food and reach to their mouth and learn to push it around before swallowing. In case you wish to use a spoon, just give a pre loaded spoon and resist feeding yourself.
  8. Welcome mess and keep calm. BLW is a messy affair. Get ready to clean up after a every meal. But it will be rewarding in the long term. Just smile when your little one makes an attempt to eat. If you see them playing too much maybe they are not so hungry or ether full. Just get them out. I used to keep Kenisha only in diaper to avoid extra laundry and my 2 dogs were the perfect sweepers after each meal!
  9. Early allergens. If there is a history of allergens you may want to introduce it slowly. For example most people suggest introducing one nut variety a week so you can test for allergy. I did not follow it. But please decide this as a parent
  10. Offer a variety of foods and textures for your little one to explore and enjoy their new freedom to eat solids.

 

Remember each child is different and as a parent you must be prepared for the worst. I have tried to share our experience but I must admit that there were rough days. Also once Kenisha joined School and Day care the family meals did reduce but by now she eats most of her meals herself at school and sometimes asks me to feed her at home. Overall it did save me a lot of sanity as a new mom and I absolutely recommend you to try this out.

Feel free to comment with your Questions below.

How to teach babies to swim – A mom’s experience guide

With the summers on set I have been taking my almost 3 year old daughter to swimming almost everyday and regularly was asked several question on Instagram stories about when I began, how to begin and tips on helping babies to adapt to the love for water.

So before I begin, please note that am not an expert. I am a Mom. I read and I research and then I figure out what works for my baby 🙂 So this blog sums up m teaching experience little K. Please don’t treat this as the bible and am sure you would be clever enough to figure out the zillion data floating on www!

My first experience in the pool with my baby

I took my baby for her first pool experience at 9-10 months age and she took to water like a fish. I personally love to swim but I learned it when I was some 15-16 years old and decided I wanted my child to get comfortable with water early on. Yes, don’t treat this as swimming classes. Till children are 4 its more important to encourage them to love water, learn to close their mouth, breath control and basically kick and paddle through

The When and How to begin with swimming with baby

It can be a nerve wrecking for many parents to take their precious child to a public pool, especially here in India. Before I share about our experience here are few useful tips to decide when and how to take your baby for the first dip

  1. Your child must be at least 12 weeks old or 6kgs plus, whichever comes first. Along with age, take your child’s experience and comfort with water into account before you decide to jump in
  2. Ensure the pool is at least 30 degrees temperature or choose to begin when the pools are naturally warmer.
  3. There should be a gap of 30 minutes post a mild feed or 1 hour post a solid meal.
  4. And of course, get a good swim diaper to hold the explosive poops!
  5. It is not important that you are a swimmer but you need to get into the pool and should be comfortable with the depths. Your child is watching you and needs your support for a new experience.

So can an infant swim?

From what I have researched and seen, yes! I have seen babies as young as 18 months or 2 year doing under water swim on youtube. However, with the limited knowledge and experience I have as a parent who loves to swim, my approach was a bit different. I wanted my kid’s experience with a swimming pool as gentle and joyous! No aggressive, cry-it-out techniques here.

Preparing for a fun swimming experience 6 months to 3 years

  1. Most kids take to the love for water early on and a fun bathing time can enhance this experience. For kids 6 months to 2 years old, help them get comfortable with water being splashed on their face and close eyes as and when. Use verbal triggers to let them know when to expect a splash and get ready. Breath control is one of the key swimming skills that needs to be worked on early on
  2. At this age, you simply want to introduce your child to the water. You can play in the pool with her yourself or join a class that’s about having fun and getting comfortable in the water — not learning to swim. Activities may include showing her how to splash, singing songs while bobbing around, and playing gentle games together.
  3. Ensure you are in the water all the time along with your baby and always supervising and close by. It’s best to be on the deeper side and stand while you can hold them in your arms and support them.
  4. Remember when holding infants in the pool to grip them softly and sink them down so they can feel their buoyancy. Remember your body language will rub off on the child so make sure to relax and communicate positively through verbal and non-verbal interactions.
  5. The horizontal floating hold is one of the most important holds for teaching babies to swim. Not only does it allow for good eye contact and exercise, but importantly it puts baby in a horizontal body position ready for submersion. This horizontal position is significant because when we float baby we want the water to run smoothly and evenly over the baby’s forehead. Many people make the mistake of submerging infants in a vertical position which can easily force water up the nose causing discomfort or distress.
  6. For kids 2 years plus you can begin simple lessons like teaching how to blow bubbles in water and getting their face wet without swallowing water. Never submerge a baby under water. They can swallow huge amounts of the chlorine treated water and you really don’t want that.
  7. For kids 2 plus you can also try fun games that help them to try and kick and try and float in water. Maybe throw a ball and watch them reach for it. Kicking his legs, and float supported on his stomach or back.
  8. Most kids can be taught to control their breadth once they are 2-3 years old. Start with just bobbing in water and letting the water vet the chin and then slowly completely till nose. Always let the child know before you plan to submerge them. Maybe like 1,2,3 under! So they are prepared to take a breadth and then hold. Another important this is to let them learn to jump in water. Initially just with sitting on side and you gently pulling them in. Next let them know if they jump mommy will catch them. Sooner they will be comfortable to hold their breath and jump in
  9. Aim for short but fun timing. Watch out for signs of distress. Keep your swim sessions timed for 10-15 minutes and increase them as per the child’s eagerness. Swim at least 3 times a week to make it efficient. Every day is even better!
  10. Ensure you give loads of praises. Many children won’t instantly feel comfortable in the water and will lack the confidence to continue with future session. Keep their spirits up by constantly praising both during and after the swim class, no matter how small or slow their progress is.

I hope you find it useful and share your comments. If there is anything else you did like to talk about, drop a comment or catch me on Instagram for a daily dose of fun!

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