Sunday, November 9, 2014

Happy Birthday!

DJ's birthday was this week and he's now officially 3 years old. When it came time to light the candles, DJ began singing Happy Birthday to himself! It was adorable.

This is a significant milestone for a couple of reasons.  First for some background. Maria Montessori described the first six years of life (0-6) as the period of the Absorbent Mind. This is a time when children absorb information like a sponge. She further subdivided this time into an unconscious phase (0-3 years) and a conscious phase (3-6). So the third birthday is a significant transition when the brain begins to order and classify experiences and the child begins to use their experiences in more purposeful ways.

This is the reason that Montessori preschool begins at the age of 3, although many schools will admit some children as early as 2.5yo. DJ officially began the primary sequence last May but I can already see in the past couple of weeks a shift in his personality. It's a fascinating experience to watch as a parent.
Because it was his birthday week, we didn't do much shelf work as we were out of the house every day. DJ had an amazing birthday party with all his friends last week.  DJ has been intensely social since he was an infant so it was heartwarming to see him celebrate his birthday with all the kids that mean the most to him.    

He explored more with paint and color mixing at our weekly art co-op.  This short 6-week class has done a lot to increase his confidence and curiosity with art supplies.  It's definitely something we'll be doing again.

He went roller skating for the first time. This was a really interesting experience. He was so excited to do this. But at first he didn't have the walker. It was hard! He fell a lot, clung to me for dear life and quickly left the slick wood floor. When the carpet didn't prove much easier, he resorted to crawling. I told him he couldn't crawl there because the floor was dirty, so he said he wanted the skates off. It had only been about 15 minutes.

So I held him in my arms and pointed out to the other, older children woosh-ing around the rink. I told him this was not their first time skating; that skating is hard; and that skating is something that has to be learned and practiced. He said, "Ohhh!"

Then I pointed to some other, younger children clinging to the wall, or their moms, and falling all over the place and told him those children were just beginning to learn and in time would be skating easily. He said, "Ohhh!"

Shortly after that I got him the walker, which helped a lot but he still had to practice on the carpet for a long time before he felt ready to go out onto the wood. In the end, he skated for over an hour.  It was a good exercise in learning to skate, but more importantly he learned that not everything worth doing comes easily and sometimes you have to struggle to learn.

This lesson was later reinforced when he received this Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks & Boards for his birthday. He watched me work on a pattern and was intrigued. He placed a couple of tiles but then, while placing the third, they all shifted out of place. He was immediately frustrated and began to refuse to do more. I reminded him that some things take practice to do well. He tried a few times over a couple of days. But there is no walker to help him along for this task so it's going to take awhile to build his confidence.

Speaking of confidence, DJ has been working hard to master getting dressed lately. Putting clothes on at all has been a major struggle for us as he would prefer to remain naked over wearing clothes, so he generally doesn't try to put clothes on himself. But this week he was in a mood and he actually put his jeans on entirely without my help. Yay!

In addition to the jeans, he also mastered buttoning his PJs too. These have big red buttons so they're a good starter set for this skill. There's a video of this too where you can hear his pride in himself. And I just love to hear that.  (btw, sorry for the dark video and photo, but he insisted on doing this with the lights off!)


  1. Michelle - re-creating the patterns on the MD pictures may simply be an inappropriate expectation for a 3 year old. Let him explore with the shapes and create his own designs (it doesn't have to "be" anything, just his own work). Let him explore how the pieces come together, or which don't come together, which needs other pieces in between to continue themselves out, etc. He can work on a felt mat or something similarly smooth but not slick - so the pieces don't shift as much. I wrote a post on Montessori Trails about this very topic - how much the children truly enjoy these :)

  2. Thanks Jessica - that's a really good idea to give him a felt surface to play freely with the pieces. It's almost like starting on the carpet for roller skating. :) I didn't really have the expectation for him to be able to do it right off, but he sure did. Showing him ways to work up to what he wants to do should help a lot.

  3. Happy birthday DJ! My little boy was 3 last week too, I didn't realise they were so close in age, that makes it even more exciting to read your blog!

    1. Wow! I didn't know they had the same birthday week either. How fun. I'll be watching your blog closely to see them grow together. :)