September 21, 2010

A grand adventure is about to begin (Winnie THEE Pooh) --> this is the Floor Bed in Action

"Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them." -- The Little Prince


So. I am ignorant.  Now that I've got that out of the way, I can speak freely and without embarrassment. 
All I knew of Montessori was that it's a private, $$$, school where we can send our kids and know that there are 1) not too many students for the teachers 2) .... uhh.. see I can't even remember number 2 ?!
Anyhow, during my first trimester of pregnancy, my father would always say (actually during every trimester.. and even now) "you should send Seba to Montessori" and I would casually say "ya..." (voice trailing off).  One day Stefano asks me "do you know who Montessori was?" Me = "Eh? No, should I?" -----> Of course... when he asks questions like this it usually means the person he is referring to is some super cool Italian.  I don't know if Maria Montessori was super cool, but she had some damn super cool ideas and approaches to child education -- or adult education as she may have thought of it.
Enter the "floor bed" ---> what is it? Exactly as the name suggests, it is a bed on the floor.  
Stefano and I were absolutely flabbergasted by this nifty idea of placing Seba's bed on the floor --> the idea of not caging the stinky prince in a crib for the first and most important years of his life was insanely exciting.
And so, we waited --- 7months --- and here were are ready to give it a try. Let's get floored little man.


Problem:
Why does the little prince complain in the morning?  Seba usually wakes up about an hour before we actually get up and out of bed.  We hear him talking to his toys, his singing moon, his hands, et cetera.  We hear him banging his toys against his crib... and then eventually we hear the scream for mommy or daddy to take him out of crib confinement.


Hypothesis:
If Seba is not locked up in a crib, when he wakes up in the morning he will 1) talk to his toys, his singing moon, his hands, et cetera 2) bang his toys against his crib 3) when he gets bored, crawl out his crib and play with other stuff 4) not have to plan a prison break, and then, when realizing it's impossible, scream for mommy or daddy to take him out crib confinement.  What does this all = ? A damn great morning for all parties involved. Happy Seba.  Happy daddy.  Happy me =) Yay.


Research/Experiment:
(If you want to skip reading this part you can, but I suggest you don't - because it's damn interesting)


Research
The following was taken from The Joyful Child, Montessori from Birth to Three by Michael Olaf.  


The first year - Respect for Unique Development, the Child's Self-Respect,
Natural Development & A Child’s Self-respect


There is definitely a relationship between the child’s mastery of communication and movement and the development of a good self-image and self respect. How many of us would be better at "loving ourselves exactly the way we are" if our own attempts at self-construction had been respected early in life? There is a connection. 

The first two years of life are the most important. Observation proves that small children are endowed with special psychic powers, and points to new ways of drawing them out—literally "educating by cooperating with nature." So here begins the new path, wherein it will not be the professor who teaches the child, but the child who teaches the professor. 
—Maria Montessori, MD

Paying attention to communication attempts, and providing for free movement in a safe and limited space, in the child’s room, or a baby-proofed living room, will do more than anything else to help the child develop trust in himself.
Each child has his or her unique blueprint for development. One child may work on eye-hand coordination while another of the same age will be concentrating on making sounds, another on push-ups or trying to move her whole body through space. One child will be interested in sitting up an eating at a table sometime during the first year and another content to breastfeed. One child will enjoy sitting on a potty to urinate and another will just not be interested. The best we can do to support this individuality is to watch, listen, respect, and get out of the way. 



Preparing the Home to Welcome the Newborn
As you go through the process of preparing baby's room before birth, lie down on the floor in the middle of the room and look around, listen. Will it be safe? interesting? beautiful? calming? Will it allow for as much freedom of movement possible?

Because of the young child's strong sense of order it is ideal if the room can stay the same for the first year. Thus it is very important to put a lot of thought into just how to arrange this first environment.

One day as I was watching the joyful, exuberant actions of a new kitten in our house, I couldn't help comparing it to the curiosity and needs of the young child. The kitten tested itself against the challenges of moving in every possible way around the living room, carefully examining each object and the best way for its body to move over, under, and around it. I was reminded of watching babies when they are allowed to move freely in a prepared environment.

Imagine how the natural development of kittens would be affected if they were confined to such things as kitten cribs with covers, kitten slings, swings, walkers, and pacifiers. I am continually thinking about how we can help babies to explore with their bodies and to develop grace and confidence in movement. The newborn has a lot of important developmental work to do, and we can help this work by providing the most naturally supportive environment.

While in the womb a child has already been exercising muscles and listening to sounds. After birth she will gradually learn to move on her own and to explore, with every sensory and motor ability at her command. She will study the room in detail with her eyes and listen carefully to every single sound with her ears. After strengthening arms and legs with baby push-ups, she will head for objects to explore further.

Every child follows a unique timetable of learning to crawl to those things he has been looking at, so that he may finally handle them. This visual, followed by tactile, exploration is very important for many aspects of human development. If we provide a floor bed or mattress on the floor in a completely safe room—rather than a crib or playpen with bars—the child has a clear view of the surroundings and freedom to explore.

A bed should be one which the baby can get in and out of on his own as soon as he is ready to crawl. The first choice is an adult twin bed mattress on the floor. Besides being an aid to development, this arrangement does a lot to prevent the common problem of crying because of boredom or exhaustion.

It helps to think of this as a whole-room playpen with a baby gate at the doorway and to examine every nook and cranny for interest and safety. If the newborn is going to share a room with parents or siblings we can still provide a large, safe, and interesting environment.

Eventually he will explore the whole room with a gate at the door and then gradually move out into the baby-proofed and baby-interesting remainder of the house.

These are the beginning stages of independence, concentration, movement, self-esteem, decision-making, and balanced, healthful development of body, mind, and spirit.



Experiment
  • we dropped Seba's bed to the floor and removed one side
  • placed pillows all around the corner where he can exit
  • baby-proofed the entire second floor of our house --> covering plugs, removing anything that could present a danger
  • put a gate at the top of the stairs
Day 1:

Stefano put Seba to bed and went to shower.  I was in our bedroom.  We leave both bedroom doors open.  Seba crawled out of his bed and came over to our room!  He hung out for a bit.  When he looked exhausted I put him back in his bed.  He slept there all night.  When he woke up (9am-ish), we heard chattering and movement. We went to his room and this is what we found:

   


Day 2:

We put Seba in his crib -- he was awake.  He talked to his moon a little bit and then fell asleep.  He didn't wake up until morning (we first heard him at around 8:30am-ish).  This is what we found today:


   

Then Stefano brought him back to his room and lay down with him for a bit...but once daddy left, the little prince was on the move again --> directly to his two favourite spots: the door stopper and daddy's desk!

  


Conclusion:
The floor bed was an overnight success =) We love it -- and even better, Seba loves it.  It enables and encourages him to explore his surroundings, be independent and have confidence in himself.  I think waiting until this moment (7 months) was the right decision --> the seeds of comfort, trust, and courage were planted and now the floor bed will help the prince continue to nurture his grand new adventure.  I have a feeling we're onto something big here Stinky... and I can't wait.


Afterthought: 
I think we may decide to put the gate at Seba's bedroom door rather than the stairs --> mainly because he has an extreme attraction to Stefano's office chair and on his way to the office, will most likely stop and remove every vent we have... looking inside as though he's lost his best friend down the airway.  




My sweet, sweet prince.. you are a handful aren't you? A lovely one though.

6 comments:

  1. Wow lisa... I have thought of doing this many times, although I have never had my own child with which to do it. i work in an infant program and parents often complain about their child waking up early crying and having to get out of bed early. I have always wondered how parents could let their child be free to play without getting out of bed.

    Really children don't need to be watched 100% of the time... they ae not incompetent fools... they are curious little geniuses who are eager to figure out how the world works. I am very proud of you and you ingenuity on this bed on the floor expirement. Sooo cool. Go lisa go go go.

    -Dave

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  2. Lisa, thanks so much for sharing this...wow I feel enlightened.. it makes total sense, I never would have ever thought of this but I am for sure going to give it a shot once the little one is ready!! You guys are awesome parents!

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  3. Lisa, I love how you put so much thought into everything you do with or for Seba. I love the bed on the floor concept, and we did this with Micah, but definitely not until he was 15/16 months old. So how early would you say that this can be done? I know it depends on each child, but just thought I'd ask for your input. Also, I've always questioned the whole idea of Montessori (sp) school, but I'm still neither here or there. Micah attends a "regular" daycare centre right now, but we almost put him in Montessori school about a year ago. The main advantage of Montessori schooling, as I see it, is smaller class sizes, which I know--as a teacher--is always beneficial, but there are certain things that I don't agree with when it comes to the theories behind some Montessori practices. Anyway, Micah is almost ready for kindergarten, but I wonder if you could convince me to place boy-boy number two in Montessori...hehe. Have you decided to place Seba in Montessori for sure?
    AAW
    p.s. Seba seems to be getting cuter by the second!

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  4. Thanks for the support everyone =)

    Azi, I think the floor bed can be done from birth. I've seen videos and photos of parents using it from day 1. We would have totally done this as well, but we had already purchased our crib. Imagine just buying a mattress? How did Micah like the floor bed?
    I am beginning to realize that some of the best things for our little friends are the cheapest things. We could have simply bought: a mattress, the cheapest (and best) cloth diapers, some wood spoons (for Seba to bang on objects), and an Ikea catalogue (for him to tear to shreds when he's tired) --> seriously, right now the boy needs nothing more to entertain himself -- well maybe a door stopper or two =)
    Speaking of cheapest being best --> I am undecided about whether we will send Seba to Montessori. One, because it doesn't follow the above theory (heh), and two because I've only just been enlightened this year on the subject. Part of me still thinks (and the bigger part) that Montessori Schools are a waste of $$$. From what I hear and see they are only a slight resemblance, if any, to what Maria Montessori envisioned.
    From the moment we found out we were pregnant, Stef and I had always thought to return to Italy when Seba reached pre-school age. Stefano's region, Reggio Emilia, has one of the best pre-school/school systems in the world -- teachers from all over go there to learn the "Reggio Approach" -- have you heard of it? Google it -- it's awesome. So -- meh --- we are still out to recess on this one -- so maybe I'll be the one needing convincing!
    Ps. 2 boys = FANTASTIC! -- I have reoccurring dreams of having three boys!!!! I know, I'm nuts =)

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  5. this is great, so interesting! are you still using the floor bed? i am definitely considering this option for when I have my future little ones

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  6. yep! still using it... and loving it!! it's fantastic for all of us

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