City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Healthy Starts

Experts at Montessori Kids Universe Share Their Secrets to Instilling Healthy Lifestyles in Young Children

One of the best gifts we can give our children is educating and modeling a healthy lifestyle. Ti Patel, owner of Montessori Kids Universe in Chester, already sees the habits she instilled early on with her daughter, Naya, when they go to restaurants. “When there is an option for fries, apples or carrots for a side, she chooses the vegetables or fruit,” she says. 

Patel attributes Naya’s choices to the fact that she engaged in healthy behaviors with Naya at an early age. “She participates in meals: I let her decide what vegetable we will have with dinner and give her food to cut. My husband, Dipen, and I will eat dinner with her so she can see that we are all eating healthy meals,” she says. 

Yoga is another practice Patel instilled early on. “I do yoga with her. I don’t just put it on TV and walk away,” she says. “It shows camaraderie, that we support each other.”

Patel brings this same philosophy to Montessori Kids Universe, where she and Director Lamis Osman forge the basis for healthy living that will last through adulthood. “We want children to recognize what’s healthy food versus unhealthy food at an early age,” Patel says. “With parents’ permission, we will feed bananas, strawberries and apples to our infants, and when children are older, we allow them to wash and cut their own healthy snacks like carrots, cucumbers and apples.”

However, Patel is a realist. “Everyone has their ‘off’ days. Sometimes, your child will want chicken fingers and fries instead of grapes or carrots,” she says. “Parents should not get too worked up as long as there is still a balance.” 

Having children be part of meal preparation is empowering. “Children want to eat what they make. We supply all the tools in our classroom: Bowls to wash carrots, a child-friendly apple slicer and workspaces at their level with produce to select from all laid out,” Osman says. “This gives them the power to make their own decisions rather than having someone make those decisions for them.”

Physical activity is also a mainstay in a healthy daily routine. Patel emphasizes movement in the school, allowing children to be active in the classroom but to also move throughout the building for different activities, including visiting the Yoga Room and Palestra (indoor gym). “Fresh air is also important,” she notes. “We open the windows daily but aim to go outside at least 30 minutes a day, weather permitting of course.” 

The children do yoga a minimum of three days a week as part of the curriculum — and sometimes more if they’d like. “Yoga helps the children manage their anxiety and improves their emotional regulation. It boosts their self-esteem and increases body awareness and mindfulness. It also enhances children’s concentration and memory. There are so many benefits,” Patel says. “Even adults can benefit from taking 5 to 10 minutes a day to practice deep breathing — just to take a moment. It’s important to instill the same philosophy with our children.”

Learn more about Montessori Kids Universe at

  • Ti Patel
  • Lamis Osman, director, Ti Patel, owner, Jackie Koppisch, director of curriculum

Businesses featured in this article