Parent Information

Fatherhood Interview with Chad

For our podcast I did an interview with Chad about fatherhood! Here is what he shared with me about his personal experience about becoming a father and discovering the kind of parent he wanted to be. There is a lot of talk of fathers and mothers and breaking traditional roles and stereotypes. This is a very emotional topic and one that carries centuries of gender-based biases. There are also so many personal, religious, cultural, familiar, and social factors that contribute to the experience of every parent and of course there are all kinds of family models. Chad shares his experience of becoming a father to one child, as a man who is married to a woman (the Montessori Mother, no less 🙂 and who was raised by very strong, Alaskan women. As Chad shared with me, although every parent’s journey is distinct, it is helpful to hear about each other’s experiences and this can affect our understanding of what being a father means to us.


Chad is a Montessori father and teacher for 3-6 year olds. Together he and I run our school and raise our 2-year-old daughter. Chad also guides Fathers’ Meet-Ups, which is what inspired us to do this podcast episode/blog post.

What is Fathers Meet-up?

Once a month on a Saturday fathers come and have a space to interact with their children and we have a discussion, which is optional. Some fathers just want to spend time with their children, which is great. The reason I came up with the idea is because I saw that in our classes there were loads of women who would talk to each other about their experience as parents and as women and how that in many ways helped them. It made me think that fathers don’t really talk about these things. There’s not really a platform where they can feel like they won’t be judged or they can express themselves honestly without hurting someone’s feelings. We have this environment where all different kinds of fathers can share the way they feel about things without fearing someone is going to judge them. Even if they disagree, it’s even better that way because a lot of fathers do have different experiences and can share that and it expands our understanding. 

All fathers are welcome with children from 2 months to 4 years. Some fathers talk about how their religion affects their parenting, but it’s not religion-specific. There is also talk of mothers and wives as well as husbands and partner-fathers, we also have single fathers and co-parenting fathers. It all plays into the idea that we get together and we hear about eachother’s experiences and this can deeply affect our understanding of what kind of fathers we want to be and how we understand what being a father means, particularly to us. 

What changed for you when you became a father?

I think becoming a father opened my eyes a lot –  to the biological truths about ageing, family, the unfairness of how women are treated, and fatherhood. I think it’s made me feel more in-touch with other men. I was raised by only women and I always felt a bit out of place among men. My mom was a tough lady who worked in the oil fields her whole life after she left the army.  She taught me how to use a chainsaw and build houses so I ended up doing a lot of jobs in traditionally male environments for most of my life and I always felt apart, even though I was competent within that world. Becoming a father made me see the parts of me that are masculine and because of that I felt more comfortable in male surroundings and maybe more empathetic to other men and more conscious of what we as men in society really need in order to be more present with our children. 

What to you hope fathers will get out of Fathers Meet-Up?

Having a place where fathers can share their experiences and get or give advice is a very important reason I see to be a part of our group. More importantly, I set this whole thing because so many fathers just don’t have equal time with their children. There are a myriad of reasons, but I like the idea that on a Saturday a father and his child can set out on an adventure across the city and have a place to go that the other partner knows is safe. Everyone who works with children has a different way of doing it and they are all valid as long as they can provide for the child’s mental, emotional, and physical needs. What often happens when both parents are together with the child, or when one parent doesn’t get any alone time with the child, is that the rhythm of one parent begins to control the rhythm of the other parent – or even excludes it unintentionally. So I think it’s vital for a dad and his child to set off into the world, just the two of them, and solve problems as they come. 

What was the best piece of advice you have received from another parent? 

I suppose the best advice that I’ve gotten was from a man who was in the playground by himself with his children and I was talking to him while I was with my child and he expressed to me the idea about the rhythms. He understood later when his child was older that it’s really important to be alone with your child in order to develop communication. He said that a father needs to spend time alone with his children as early as possible. This means that he sometimes has to put his foot down and say, ‘I am a part of my child’s life and that means now, not later when they can talk and play football, but now.’

What is a common misunderstanding about fatherhood and what is the truth that you now know? 

I think this is my experience, I don’t know if it’s everyone’s, but I think that a big myth is that raising children is ‘women’s work.’ We live in a time that is very different from past generations and many fathers are a big part of their children’s lives. However, I see very prevalently in society the belief that men are not natural parents. I’ve seen a woman jump across isles thinking I was going to drop my child. I see women who feel the need to explain how a stroller works to me or whether or not I should consult my child’s mother before I give them ibuprofen. It’s not that women don’t suffer degradation in society, but it’s particularly difficult for men to surpass this misconception that  “mother knows best”. Fathers are often not considered as equal parents with an equal right to make decisions or have their own philosophy for child-raising… [Chad gives several of examples in the podcast about common situations he has heard of and how the father felt when being corrected in those situations]

Maybe it looks easy when a mother does it, but there is no magic “mother’s touch”. It’s not about being a mother. When two human beings suffer through difficulty- and being a child is extremely difficult with a myriad of new experiences – they develop trust with each other and a form of communication that’s only between them. The child understands that they are safe with this person physically and emotionally. Women have the benefit of countless generations who have come before them that cemented this role of motherhood in society. They also passed down tools of how to care for another human being, which many men are not given when they are boys. 

Do you feel like fathers have equal opportunities in education and parenting? What do we need to change to help them be more included? 

I think fathers often don’t have the level of opportunity as mothers do and I think it’s really about time. Many fathers don’t have the particular kind of courage or tact to put their foot down and say ‘I am an equal parent. And while I may not be the only one making the rules of engagement, I won’t be left out of the conversation or subordinated to carrying out orders.’ I don’t know how that comes off, but when you’re a father it does often feel like ‘I just have to carry out what the mother says because mother knows best and I am just kind of here…’ A mother needs support, but a father also has valid input. Once a man has crossed over their line of illumination and their presence in the child’s life becomes vital, a lot of it becomes easier.

I will not listen to what society tells me and I will be present in my child’s daily life somehow…I will do this no matter what anyone else on the planet says. I am my child’s parent for life.” 

Fathers often have a stack of difficulties. Some may only need time alone with their children to figure things out. Sometimes the other partner needs to see things from their point of view and ensure that their own behaviour is not discouraging or disabling that father from being present. Often schedules can be rearranged. [Examples in the podcast]

The priority we give our children now is the priority that they will give us when we are old and we don’t have work or our health and all we have is time.

Parenting is dominated by a feminine aesthetic and it can be intimidating for men to enter that world of holding the baby or of changing diapers or of putting their baby in a carrier and going for a walk quietly. It can make a man feel emasculated or like they’re in a world that they don’t fit into, or they feel awkward in. I don’t think many women are cognisant of the fact that this feminine aesthetic makes men feel out of place. There is a lot behind that psychologically, but the essential point is that a partner who is more comfortable with parenting can maybe try to see things from the other parent’s point of view. Maybe the kind of encouragement that they are trying to give isn’t the right kind. Maybe choosing a different tact in conversing or commenting on how they are with the child could be worked on. 

 How did you learn about what kind of father you wanted to be? 

I never really thought of myself as a father. Maybe in my mid do late twenties I thought it would be cool to have a child, but it was only in passing moments. I think society doesn’t really gear us (men) toward what kind of fathers we want to be, especially not in the way that women are geared towards it. I was raised by women and the closest thing I ever had to a father was Indiana Jones as a kind of childhood idol. So many fathers base their idea of what kind of father they want to be simply on doing the exact opposite than what their father did. We have to think about and be aware of the fact that fatherhood doesn’t really have any good role-models. 

The tools that we need to be a functioning member of our family in today’s world, to care for and encourage another human being, were not given to us. We have to forge them from scratch, from zero, through our own experiences in every moment.

What is the best part of being a father?

I think the best part of being a father – and this is going to sound strange or maybe silly – but when I pick up my daughter from somewhere, she catches sight of me and her whole face lights up and she runs towards me and hugs me, I think something inside me just melts. It kind of feels like all those fears that you are doing something wrong, that every parent goes though, just goes away because you see that your child is happy to see you.

Thank you for reading!

-Katelynn & Chad

Parent Information, The Montessori Method

Language Development

In this blog post you will learn the stages of development for language comprehension and speech from pregnancy to 6 years old; I share some ways to help your child learn and use language by making small changes to every-day interactions; and I reference recent, peer-reviewed studies to answer the main questions I hear from parents:
1. When to children learn to talk?
2. Will having more than one language at home cause speech delays? 
3. My child isn’t talking yet. Should I be worried?
4. How can I teach my child a new language?
5. What is the best way to support language learning in general?
6. Should I try baby sign language?

#1 When do children learn to talk?

ages & stages

  • Research has shown that language learning starts in the womb and could start as early as the 4th month of pregnancy, from the time Baby is able to hear. {1,2}
  • As seen in the guides below, much of language-learning occurs during the pre-linguistic stage from pregnancy to the time child speaks their first, intentional word. 
  • In general, the child says their first word around the age of 1. By the age of 3 the child is able to speak in short sentences. 
  • Some babies may start speaking earlier, and some toddlers may start later. Every child has their own, perfect timing.
  • In the 2nd year of life there is an explosion of language during which the child learns approximately 7-10 new words per day, or 1 new word every 2 waking hours!

For a complete guide of speech development, you can open and print our new language development chart:
0-1 year | 1-6 years | complete 0-6 guide

#2 Will having more than one language at home cause speech delay? 

This is a myth!

  • The saying that teaching a child multiple languages will cause delayed speech is a myth! 
  • In fact, in the first three years of life children can learn multiple languages at the same speed as a child who is only learning one. 
  • There is no limit to the number of languages a child can learn in the first 6 years of life. See #4 How to teach my child a new language below.
  • Having two or more native languages has long been proven to be linked to higher executive function and cognitive abilities. Specifically, multilingualism is linked to longer attention-span, higher task-switching ability, and protection against cognitive decline in old age. {recent peer-reviewed studies: 7, 8}
  • The connection between multiple languages and speech delays may be relevant in combination with other factors such as family history, medical conditions, low parent education, and lack of stimulation. If you are interested in this topic, here are two recent case studies on the risk factors of speech delays. {3, 4}

#3 My child isn’t talking yet. Should I be worried?

  • In the first year of life, the development of language involves mostly learning language comprehension, which is neurological. The development of speech foremost depends on motor ability, which is still developing from 0-2 years old. To produce speech, the child must first have the motor skills to form sounds. Secondly the child requires the neurodevelopment to absorb words and concepts through visual/auditory/sensory information, comprehend and process that information, formulate language in the brain, and ultimately express it. Each of these processes occur in a different area of the brain. {5}
  • I share this with you to show that a child’s first word is a huge task which the child has been working on for nearly their entire life up to that moment.
  • An 18 month-old child may be able to say 1-15 words, but also comprehends 70-100 words as well as grammar, intonation, and “yes”/“no”. 

speech delays

  • If your child is not yet speaking in 3- word sentences by the age of 3, this could a sign of a speech delay. 
  • If your child is over 3 and you are concerned about a speech delay, seek advice from your child’s paediatrician and/or a speech pathologist.
  • If your child is under 3 years old, but you are worried about speech delays, you can have your child’s hearing checked, monitor other developmental milestones, learn ways to support early childhood language development, and speak with your child’s pediatrician. 
  • Many babies and toddlers start speaking later. This is not by itself a sign that something is wrong. However, speech delays are not something to be afraid of. For more information on what a speech delay can indicate and what to expect if your child has a speech delay, here is a helpful parent guide. {6}

#4 How can I teach my child a new language?

one-person-one language

  • In Montessori we aim to support the child’s amazing ability to absorb and learn to perfection multiple language without direct instruction. The rule we follow is one-face-one-language, meaning that each person in the child’s life speaks only one language directly to the child. 
  • In early childhood language is learned through absorption by contact with another person who speaks directly to the learner. 
  • The adult does not need to speak their own native language, but a language they are comfortable speaking and able to speak consistently to the child. Choose the language you want your child to learn from you and use that when you are together. 
  • In groups or family settings where the language is different, you can speak the group language, which is the culturally considerate thing to do. But when you are speaking only to your child, you would switch back to the language you share together.
  • In this way, the child is able to clearly organise and learn the language completely and they are also able to organise and separate languages associated with different people. For example, the child knows that their mother and grandmother call this fruit an apple, and their friends and teacher call this fruit der Apfel.

changing the language you speak to your child

  • If a parent would like to change the primary language they speak with the child, it is possible to switch as long as they are consistent from then on. For example, if a parent has multiple native languages themselves and decides later that they would like to introduce a different language from their partner, it’s not too late!
  • It is best to make this switch as early as possible. 
  • What to expect: 
    > Switching during the pre-linguistic stage, or during the first year of life, is a smooth transition in my experience and in my observations. 
    > If you make the switch after the first year, or during the linguistic stage, it may take several days to a week for both parent and child to adjust. 
    > If your child is over 2 years old and is already in their explosion of language, this change will be more challenging, but it is still possible. 
    > After 6 years old, changing the primary language you speak with your child is not likely to be successful. If you know of a situation when this was possible for a family, please email me! I would love to know more.  
  • To help your child learn this new language, see #5 What is the best way to help my child learn language? below.

See the language development guide for reference of your child’s stage of language-learning.

establish a personal connection to the target language

If you want to teach your child a language which is different from your primary language with them, here are some ideas:

  • Find a class in your area which is taught in the target language: Montessori in English, Ballet in Spanish, Art in French, etc. to normalise the language and allow the child to absorb it naturally in a fun environment. 
  • As often as possible speak to friends, caregivers, other parents, etc. in the target language while the child is present in order to make the target language a normal part of the environment. 
  • Find a babysitter or playgroup leader who speaks the target language, so your child can create a personal connection to the adult speaking the language to them. 
  • Read books in the target language to your little one. 
  • You can read to your child in any language, regardless of what language you usually speak together. The book should be read only in the language it is written in. In this situation, the rule is one-book-one-language.
  • Listen to songs in the target language and have fun singing and dancing together in that language.

#5 What is the best way to support language learning in general?

For specific recommendations for your child’s current stage of development, see the Language Development Guide. Below you will find general recommendations for giving language to toddlers in daily life, in the way you play with your child, and while you are out and about together. 

daily life

  • Use body language when you speak to the child. Get down on their level, make eye contact, and show them what you are talking about. Pause for comprehension, and repeat if needed.
    For example: if you want to ask if they are hungry, bring the snack to them. Get down on their level, make eye contact and ask, “Are you hungry?” Showing them the food. Pause for an answer. “Let’s go eat at the table,” and point to the table.
  • Speak in complete sentences with descriptive vocabulary. For example:
    Say “Have you hurt yourself?” Not “Baby ow?”
  • Instead of “yay” or “uh oh” describe what your baby has done/observed. “You put the ball in the basket!” “Your plate fell on the ground.”
  • Offer choices, even if your child is not speaking yet. They then have the option to speak or point.
    “Do you want milk or water?” “Do you want to take a bath or read a book first?”
  • Add on to the words your child uses, including them in full sentences or offering more information. If your child says, “Outside wet.” You can reply, “Yes, it is wet outside. It’s raining. Can you see the puddles?”

the way you play

  • Use complete and correct names for all items, animals, furniture…
    For example, say “hippopotamus” – not hippo. Say “car” – not beep beep. Say “cylinder” – not circle. Say “cat” – not meow meow.
  • Instead of questions like “What color is this?/What is this animal?” Ask the child to give you the red block or put the giraffe on the table. By responding choosing the item you asked for, you will know if they know the names of the colors, animals, etc. 
  • When reading books or looking at photos, isolate nouns to teach vocabulary. Instead of “this is a squirrel”, just say SQUIRREL and repeat the word one or two times. 

out and about

  • When you go out to do things with your child, to the park, to the zoo, to a cafe, the child is absorbing a lot of language by just watching and listening. You can connect them to these places and aid their learning by discussing their observations.
  • It is not enough just to take the child to interesting places. You have to make the connection so they can learn how to understand and categorise what they see.
  • On a walk, let your child roam free and notice what draws their attention. If they want to stare at a leaf on the ground for five minutes – great! Let’s talk about the leaf. What tree could it have fallen from? Is it whole or broken? What does the leaf tell us about the season?.…
  • Allow your child to be present for and included in conversations between adults.

#6 Baby Sign Language

  • Baby sign language is a great tool for non-verbal babies and toddlers. It also helps verbal toddlers express themselves when they are across the room from you or in situations when they feel shy and prefer not to speak. 
  • You can start from birth or any time after that to use signs for different things. You can use as few or as many as you want.
  • Any sign you use will work, as long as you are consistent with how you use it. 
  • Here is a free, online dictionary which will shows you the signs in many different countries. 
  • As much as possible, use real signs from your country’s dialect of sign language. Let the sign language you use with your little one be a real language you are adding to their life!
  • If your child has their own way of making a sign you use, accept and respond to it, so they know you understand. Continue making the sign in the same way that you taught it to them. This is the way they understand it already and the way they are trying to imitate.

my experience with baby sign language: 

When our daughter was born we started using basic signs: milk, diaper change, I love you… But when our baby was eight months old she started repeating the signs. We were so amazed that we incorporated more and more into our language. She still uses them today in combination with spoken words and we are so happy that she has the ability to express herself when she needs something. 

helpful signs

You can look up signs in different countries with a video dictionary such as

PAINYou can ask the child if they are feeling pain and they can tell you if they have hurt themselves. This is such a relief when baby cannot yet explain to the parent verbally how they feel.Point your index fingers together and twist your writs in opposite directions.
CHANGE (DIAPER)Make two fists and put them together at the palm. Twist your wrists in opposite directions.
EAT/FOODYour child can tell you when they are hungry and you can tell them when it’s time to eat.Bring your fingers and thumb together on your right hand, moving your hand towards and away from your mouth in a short motion.
SLEEPYour child can tell you when they are tired and you can ask them if they want to sleep or relax. Place an open hand on your cheek.
BUMPYour child can tell you if they have fallen down.Make two fists and bump them together at the thumbs.
MILKMake two fists, opening and closing your hands.
WATERPut your first 3 fingers to your chin, holding your thumb and pinkie together, palm facing to the side.
FINISHED/ALL DONEWith two open hands in front of your chest, face them away from you, then turn them towards you.
WORKYour child can tell others that they are busy or that their toy is not available.Make two fists and cross your forearms over one another.
WASH HANDSMove your hands together as if you are washing them.


  1. Language experienced in utero affects vowel perception after birth: a two-country study, USA National Library of Medicine,
  2. Fetal rhythm-based language discrimination: a biomagnetometry study, NeuroReport Health Journal,
  3. An Assessment of Risk Factors of Delayed Speech and Language in Children: A Cross-Sectional Study, USA National Library of Medicine,
  4. Speech and language delay in children: Prevalence and risk factors, USA National Library of Medicine,
  5. What brain regions control our language? And how do we know this? The Conversation Academic Journal,,%20temporal,left%20side%20of%20your%20brain
  6. Language Delays in Toddlers: Information for Parents, Healthy Children Medical Blog by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 
  7. Bilingualism and the Development of Executive Function: The Role of Attention, USA National Library of Medicine,
  8. Positive Cognitive Effects of Bilingualism and Multilingualism on Cerebral Function: a Review, Psychiatric Quarterly Journal,

Thank you for reading!