Scooting, crawling and more movement is on the way. As parents, it can be easy to get caught up in when these milestones are reached, but remember that your little one is learning in their own perfect way. It is essential to let them learn at their own pace, trusting their process and avoiding placing any kind of pressure on them. If they are slower to move it may be because they are busy learning language or discovering the properties of physics. Letting them do their work in their own time supports their confidence and ability to focus on what they are learning. Of course if you have concerns about your child’s development, do discuss those with your pediatrician.
As your little one becomes mobile, they will naturally begin to explore everything! As they do this we have a great opportunity to support them in a way that helps them grow their concentration, independence, confidence, curiosity and problem-solving skills.
Free to explore
As long as it is safe, there is really no wrong way for your little one to discover the world around them. Does your little one put everything in their mouth? Great! This is one way they are learning about the world. Obviously keep things safe and sanitary, but let your baby do as much exploring with their mouth as possible! Do they throw things non-stop? Wonderful! They are learning about their bodies, gravity and the world around them as they throw!
When we stand back and let our children do something on their own, the joy of discovery is theirs! It may be hard not to insert yourself to save them the “trouble” of figuring out one of the activities. That “help” can take the valuable work of contemplating and learning through trial and error away from them. If we let them fail and try again often, it helps them know, from a very early age, that failure is part of learning and developing. When we can resist the urge to jump in and solve it for them, the message they will receive is that they are intelligent and capable.
If they need some input, it can help to let your child know that you see they are working on a skill and that can be hard sometimes. Let them know that if they need help, they can ask for it. When they do ask for help, try to give it without intruding on their process. You can do this by giving the minimum amount of “help” necessary. Perhaps help them grasp the ball in a slightly different way, or reposition the board closer to them, rather than doing the whole thing for them. By doing less, you actually help them the most.
So what do you do instead of helping your baby as they explore? Slow down and just watch them as they work. See what they are attracted to doing, and how they do it. Your presence and positive attention nourish your little one. Your regular interaction through “conversation” and play helps them connect to you and learn everything from language to empathy. Every moment that you can give your undivided attention to your child is golden.
Take a screen vacation every dayBeing fully present in the moment has never been easy. It is increasingly hard in our modern world as most of us are managing multiple information streams all the time. It will benefit your baby (and you) greatly if you can make time each day to have all screens and notifications turned off. Ideally, even have your phone hidden away. As with any habit, start small but be consistent - perhaps commit to 30 minutes without screens or notifications each day. If you are able, slowly grow the amount of this mindful time together.
This post was written by Olynda Smith, AMS Certified Montessori Primary teacher.