Are you always busy, rushing, occupied, running from one place to other seldomly having a chance to stop, think and let your child have a play with whatever he/she wants and chooses to do?
The world shouts from every corner you must have this, your child should be doing that, rarely examining whether or not it is really necessary or beneficial for your little learner, busy worker and a fun playmate.
Take a moment and think about the last time your child played contently on their own, completely captivated by their own activity?
The greatest help you can give your child is freedom to go about their own work in their own way. We should be guided by the child (M. Montessori, 1989), giving them opportunities to make choices, develop concentration and let their minds grow, just like their bodies do.
Here are some Do’s & Don’ts, to encourage a child led play!
When a child has shown and interest in a toy or game they wish you play and they come to you asking to join in - TAKE PART. Even if you are not a big fan of the particular game. Show full support and engagement. It will encourage your child to practice initiative and choose their own activities. Try asking the child to choose toys and games that wish to do, rather than always handing them ideas straight away. If the child is reluctant to do it, give instruction and direction, that will help them build confidence and independence.
Prepare the environment for the child. Look at your child’s room, examine the spaces your child uses the most throughout the day. Is it cluttered and confusing? Does your child have too many choices? Avoid putting everything in one big box, it doesn’t give opportunities to choose and learn an ability to tidy when finished. An organised toy shelf teaches children order and establishes pattern of structure from a young age. Make sure children can reach their toys independently. Prepare the setting, for child to be able to make choices, as they learn to make their own decisions in their life (M. Montessori 1989).
Step Back and Observe
If a child is struggling with something, don’t jump right in to save the day. Let your child develop perseverance. Wait and see how she/he copes with the situation and step in when necessary, with support to enable the child to deal with a similar situation. It helps the child develop problem solving skills.
Don’t interfere when your child is playing or doing a particular activity on their own. Being occupied with a task, a toy or a game helps children build their concentration - it is an important part of life (M. Montessori, 1998). Interference stops activity and concentration, however keep your eyes open for the moments that the child may be disturbed or is in a mood for naughtiness. Put on your policeman hat and defend, instruct where & when necessary.
Reserve Your Praise
Choose the times for praise wisely. Praise breaks the enhancement (M. Montessori, 1989), therefore try not to comment, when the child is deeply captivated by their activity and their imagination. It is not easy, but your child will benefit from having an uninterrupted time to him/herself.
Most importantly remember, that if the child has a freedom to develop, the result will be seen at the adult stage (M. Montessori, 1989). Childhood lays foundation for each individual’s personality and response for life (Lillard & Jensen, 2003).
We are looking forward to hear about your play times! How has playing with Flockmen supported a child led play at your house or pre-school? Let us know!
Lillard, P. P. and Jensen, L.L (2003) Montessori from the Start, New York: Schocken Books Maria Montessori, The Child, Society and the World, 1989.
About The Author
Alina Kalnina Kalnaraja is a writer at Flockmen. Her days are spent between being a mother to an active 4 year old, administrating an office for a non profit organisation in the North of England and freelancing as localisation and social media consultant for a global children’s brand. She is passionate about living an intentional life! She uses her MA in education and various experience gained throughout years in places as far as USA and mainland Europe. Check out her blog.