Friends often compliment Little's ability to maintain focus and independence. I have been asked how I get her to move about the house so freely. One of my mom friends gets really annoyed with her baby because she feels she is always trying gain access to things she preferred she wouldn't rather than her toys. I don't. In fact, I welcome free exploration of the house. I simply observe and gather data which I use to inform my decisions about the items I will place on her shelf.
My absolutely delightful daughter turned 12 months recently. She was a wonderful and welcomed surprise and has changed my life completely. I am also mom to an amazing young lady who was home schooled for the first 4 years of her life. She went on to enter college at age 13 and completed her bachelors with a double major in Philosophy and Political Science at age 17. She is now 21 and in her last year of law school. I'm so proud of her! A lot has changed since she was my infant's age. At the time she was born, I was a single SAHM. Now, I am married as well as a certified teacher. I've served in several different capacities in my profession including General Education teacher, English for Speakers of Other Languages Specialist, Reading Resource Specialist, Literacy Coach and Instructional Coach. Balancing all the hats I wear is quite a challenging task, but I am determined because the first six years of life are very important. I am looking forward to being as present as I possibly can. I know her mind is like a sponge and I don't want to miss out on these amazing first years.
My time is limited, therefore I realize that in order to make the most of each moment, I have to work smart and not hard. I skillfully use a plethora of learning approaches as well as my background in education, which spans from infancy to 12th grade, to create a stimulating home environment for my daughter that encourages focus and exploration. With this in mind, Little has several shelves throughout our home with carefully chosen activities and items designed to encourage exploration and focus rather than a toy box. Once placed on the shelf, these activities become her "work", so I specifically choose items that strike a balance between her fine motor skills and mental abilities. My ultimate goal at this stage in her development is to build her attention span, focus, and concentration. The key to doing this lies in gathering data while observing without interfering in any way. Then I use what I've learned from my observations to make changes necessary to support her development and provide brain stimulation.
Little shows the most interest in the things underneath the bathroom sink, pots and pans, opening and closing drawers or cabinets, and containers with tops.
Actually, she will spend quite an amount of time manipulating these types of things. So , that's exactly what I put on her shelf: child sized pots, containers, and jars with tops. Remember, my goal is to support the development of her ability to concentrate and focus. What better way to do that than to avail her of the things she's most curious about.