After attending my workshop, a mummy asked me a few questions regarding her baby’s play. I thought you’d be interested in how to encourage your baby to play in an independent and constructive way:
Question: I actually have a few questions pertaining to let child play alone. I tried to introduce toy to my son by showing him how to play and let him play himself. However, most of the time he will not follow on my instructions on how to play it but will grab or play it according to his own will such as banging the toy or just throw it. So I really have no idea on how to get him play it the right way. Should I just let him be? Or I have to keep repeating the instructions over and over again and hope that he will follow it one day? FYI, my son is currently 8 months old.
My reply: To let your baby playing independently, the most important step is “Preparing the Environment”. This means preparing a condusive learning environment for him to explore.
At a young age (that is, 8 months old), it’s rather impossible for him to follow your instructions.
You may show him how to play with a toy, then it’s up to him to follow.
- If he can do so, let him play.
- If he can’t play gently (yet), it’s ok, relax, gently remove the toy by exchanging something with him. Say “Please be gentle… we’ll try again next time.”
If he is in the banging or throwing stage, then prepare toys / objects that he is allowed to bang on or throw.
Examples for banging:
- toy drum
- toy xylophone
- toy hammer with tools to bang on.
I have a set of musical instruments from ELC Mothercare. My kids still love it.
Example for throwing:
- basket with fabric ball(s).
My #3 (El) was about 12 months old when he started this throwing frenzy. I prepared the basket mentioned above, showed him how to do it and he thoroughly enjoyed repeating the activity over and over again!
I have left it on the baby/toddler learning shelf since then. Even the older boys take it out to practice aiming and throwing when they wish to do so.
- clean dustbin + scraps of paper / recycled cardboard / etc.
Let him practise throwing rubbish into the bin. This is a good practical life skills to learn.
So just look around your house and think of more ideas 🙂
Question: Apparently he seems to be interested with things that are not his toys or not allowed to be played such as door mat. He only shows interest with his toys for a while then he will start to explore other things.
It’s good for him to explore and learn about everything in the house, so that he eventually knows how they work.
If he’s interested in the door mat, you may tell him “This is the door mat.”
You may describe more, e.g. “It’s for our feet, so it’s dirty. Not for our hands.”
Then offer him an alternative to explore:
e.g. a new and clean door mat / floor rug (plain colour, like beige, light blue, light grey)
Let him touch, lie on it, do activities on it.
The floor rug can be used for a long time. Montessori encourages doing activities on rugs, mats and trays. This is very neat and confines the work area.
Have fun with your baby!