Thursday, October 20, 2011


Over the last months I have been keen on a simple life approach. Less is more. I tried to get rid off a lot of stuff and make the flat looke more clear. I bought a drawer for the toys in the living room so they would all be gone in the evening when I want to relax and be back in the right place in the morning. Now I have been to the first block of my Pikler training course and already I have changed the play area. I ADDED stuff. Phew

The older Leander gets the more I am keen on NEW toys. What is he interested in NOW? What's the next step? The creche gave me that feeling too, they have all this Montessori material there and I tried to copy that into our home. I even let him play with two small jugs of water, of course I showed him how first, just as Montessori describes. He surely LOVED it. But what did he get out of it (apart from wet trousers)? Exactly. Nothing. He didn't ask for it, he didn't figure it out for himself and the small but heavy jugs didn't leave much freedom for his own free play.

Free play. Yesterday I learned a lot about it. The importance of it and the characteristics. The more we talked about it the smaller I got, thinking about how I went the completely wrong direction, exactly the way I DIDN'T want to go and surely didn't want Leander to go.

So today I did a bit of a change. I put the "didactic toys" - the ones that have an aim, that have purpose - away and replaced them by "open toys" - ones that let the child explore freely for himself. Instead of the tower stack, puzzles or 100s of cars and trains there are now many balls, many cups, many bowls with many wooden bricks and many rings than could go onto a tower stick but could also be used for... Well, be creative! I also put the crayons away because he COULD BE as creative as Antek with them, but in the creche he has already been TAUGHT what to do with them but isn't really keen yet (apart from those 5 minutes once a week when the walls get a new artistic touch).

You might realise the excessive use of the word MANY there. That's right. All that kids need in their second year is just a great number of those toys they have been playing with in the first year. They want:

- put things on top of each other
- put things into each other (and see what fits where)
- (re)arrange things
- empty and fill and refill and refill cups or bowls
- push things
- move things
- climb into things (apart from Leander)
- Walk around pulling toys
- be flexible and creative with what is there

Our living room now looks like the room in the playgroup we go to. But that's wonderful, it feels right and harmonious. I can't wait to go and pick up Leander from the creche, take him home and give him back the quality of free play. Most of us haven't experienced it and are lacking qualities such as joy of exploration, concentration, focus and attention span (see also Janet Lansbury's post on this here)
I want my son at least to have the chance of building up those qualities.