All about Toilet Learning

Guest post by Leport Montessori

Toilet training: Just mention this word, and many parents of toddler cringe. Numerous books have been written about the subject, and parents and educators hotly debate the right time and approach for children to transition out of diapers and learn to use the toilet.

At LePort, we apply Montessori principles to this important childhood task: toilet learning is an integral part of our Montessori toddler program, and, of course, included in the program at no additional charge.

Toilet learning is a natural part of a child’s developing independence skill set. Being able to use the toilet without help by an adult is an important milestone to a child’s independence. In a Montessori toddler class, it’s just one natural step in all the other work on independence your child will engage in. In fact, many of the independence skills we teach him – hanging up his coat, putting on socks and shoes, learning to button and to close zippers, proper hand washing techniques – are skills that will make it much easier for him to successfully use the toilet by himself.

A focus on learning, not training. Much advice on toilet training includes relying on rewards (stickers etc.) and punishments. These extrinsic incentives, in our view, are detrimental to any learning process, including potty learning. In the Montessori toddler classrooms, your child will instead encounter the toilet as a natural part of growing up. He’ll see older peers using it. He’ll be invited to try sitting on the toilet, as a natural part of changing his diaper. The child’s wish to imitate his older peers, his burgeoning desire to be master of his own needs, and his interest in a consistent routine are our best allies here. And, of course, our 1:6 (or in limited cases 1:7) ratio up to age 3 enables us to spend more time teaching than in other programs, where the ratio changes to 1:12 at age two, long before most children have completed the toilet learning process!

An early start to learning. In a Montessori infant or toddler environment, toilet learning starts early. When we diaper babies in our infant rooms, we do so in the bathroom, to begin associating elimination processes with the appropriate location. We invite them to help: to lift up their legs, to climb up on the low changing table, to pull open diaper tabs. Once a child is able to stand up steadily, we start changing his diaper while he is standing up. We also invite him to sit on the potty, sometimes for children just barely over a year old. We never force a child to sit on the toilet or otherwise rush the process of toilet learning– but often, they become interested in these activities the same way they become interested in other things older children or adults do!

An encouraging follow-the-child approach. Montessori teachers are careful observers, introducing activities to children whom they judge to be developmentally ready. The same is true for toilet learning: while we encourage participation in the process from day one, our teachers watch for signs of readiness to start a more intensive, “official” toilet learning phase. Readiness, in this context, does not mean a child who declares, “I want to use the toilet and wear diapers” (although some 2-year-olds have been known to say just that!) Readiness means a child who has mastered prerequisite skills (e.g., who has a dry diaper for longer periods between changes, who can pull his own pants down and back up) and who shows an interest in becoming more independent and/or in using the toilet (observing other children, asking questions, being interested in flushing, talking about bodily functions.) Once we identify a child as ready, we begin to work together with you, the parents, and switch from diapers to cotton underpants.

A joint school-parent effort. In order to help your child be successful at toilet learning, we work closely with you to identify the right time, and to put in place a consistent approach at home and in the school. For example, once your child starts, we want him to be in cotton underpants (no pull-ups!) for all his waking hours, at school and at home. Since some “wet events” early in the process are unavoidable, we work with you to start the process at a time when you can dedicate your attention to it at home, too. We provide detailed, written tips that we encourage you to follow, from the language to use (e.g., saying “Let’s use the toilet now that you are awake”, rather than asking “Would you like to use the toilet”, which invites a reflective no from many toddlers!), to advice on clothing to wear, and common mistakes to avoid in the process. Every year, we also host a Parent Education Evening dedicated to toilet learning, where you can get your questions answered by your child’s teachers.

We have found that toilet learning the Montessori way is often much easier than parents expect. When parents and school work closely together, a child can easily complete toilet learning well before the age of three, the time the child transitions to the primary classroom, which requires him to be fully independent in the use of the toilet.


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That time we had to choose a school.

A couple of years ago my children's father and I were faced with finding a new school for the kids. And let me tell you....choosing a school is not easy. 

We were seeking a school with good academics, but one that is also geared to a child's best way of learning. Our older kids didn't want big classrooms, so that meant that some of the schools were automatically off our list. And they wanted to feel challenged, as well as be around kids they could spend time with outside of the school. As their parents, we also wanted teachers that love their job and do it well, out of passion and dedication. And we wanted teachers well-trained in the subjects they teach. Of course, we also were hoping that it wasn't going to be too far from where we lived, since with our different schedules, we needed to be able to coordinate drop-offs and pick-ups with each other. And this was just some of the things we were seeking. Did I mention that it's not easy?

During this same time, I learned about Montessori. We had been so involved in Waldorf style of education that I didn't know that much about Montessori. Yet, the more I learned, the more this style of learning seemed to fit the way my kids learn best. We had already started to pull away from some of the concepts of Waldorf, so Montessori peaked my interest. After researching local Montessori schools, we decided to tour and observe at Leport Schools. And it didn't take long to see that this was a school that met many of our requirements. So, we decided to enroll the kids in the Leport Schools summer program...and it was awesome.

The children are now into their second year at Leport Schools - striving, learning, making friends, learning in a way that is geared to how they learn best and growing.

We couldn't be happier. And so glad that decision is out of the way! Next comes high school. Yikes. :)


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Coming into 2017

It's been a good year.

Granola Babies continues to grow, due to our amazing customers. I've said it before and it's so true, we have the BEST customers ever. Hands down. We're lucky and we're so thankful.

During 2016, Granola Babies had a very big change with the opening of our community room to retail space. In doing so, we were able to add 50% more products for our customers and keep the focus of our boutique on providing the best eco-friendly sustainable gifts for children. Our core classes were moved to our Annex, which is striving as OC's go-to for parenting classes and education.

One of my goals for 2016 was to grow our toys selections and we were able to do that in 2016. In this coming new year, we'll be increasing toys even more and in doing so, become the one-stop shop for toys for ages 0-6 years old. As our customers have noticed, we are quite picky when it comes to toys and we'll continue to hand-select our products into the new year.

On a personal level, my children entered their second year at Leport Montessori, during 2016. While at Leport, we've learned so much about the many benefits of Montessori education and lifestyle. During this new year, I hope to share more about this through a monthly blog post.

As some of our customer have learned, there are major changes also in the personal level. My children's father and I, amicably and together, bring in the new year as co-parents to our children but no longer a couple. It's a new journey for us as individuals that includes nesting (learn more here) and co-parenting, just as we have been since our children's births.

So as I come into 2017, I do so with excitement of what it brings, joy and thankfulness. It too will be a good year.



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Holiday Gift Ideas

It's holiday gift shopping time! Some of you are ecstatic about this and some are lost in the world of confusion as to what to get the little ones in your life. In a world of junky plastic toys that break easily and don't last long, it can be hard to find those quality gems that enhance creativity and are made with quality. Well, not that hard actually, since we have them all at Granola Babies. :)  We literally have hundreds of holiday gift ideas. But, we know that sometimes it can be hard trying to narrow down to that perfect holiday gift.

Here's are some ideas that will help get you started. Come visit us for these and more.

Gifts for Ages 0 - 12 Months

For this age, we recommend motor skills enhancing toys such as our sorting toys, blocks for stacking and pounding toys, such as our 3-in-1 musical pounding toy. In addition, any of our many  many teethers are fabulous for teething, as well as motor skills as the handle and move around their Granola Babies teethers.


Gifts for Ages 1 - 3 Years Old


This is such a fun age for riding toys, walking toys (ours have places for their children to put their toys in too!) and more stacking toys to stack and then push down (a perfect choice would be our sturdy cardboard stackers). We also really like to start introducing creative play at this age. Toys like our European lines are specifically made to further a child's creativity and ability to "think outside the box" with their toys and find multiple ways to play with the same toy. In addition, many children this age also like having their own "baby", which we recommend our soft dolls and cuddly stuffed animals for this very reason.

Gifts for Ages 3 - 6 Years Old

Granola Babies offers toys for up to age 6 years old, though my 9 and 11 year old children still find toys they want when they visit Granola Babies. In this age group, children love the open-play, creative houses that can be built any way their hearts desire. Pretend play is key during this age and having our tea sets, kitchen ware and pots, dress up clothing, as well as more of our European creative play toys can mean hours and hours of quality playtime. In addition, blocks are still a classic during this age and made even more interesting with our magnetic blocks. For many years, my children enjoyed playing as well with their wooden animal toys, which were passed own from child to child and many are now over 10 years old. All of these and more available at Granola Babies.

There are so many more options at Granola Babies, but these recommendations should get you started into lovely holiday shopping or any time shopping. We believe in quality over quantity, beauty in toys as well as creative toys that grow with the children.

Happy shopping and enjoy!



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