Giving an obstacle-free environment is very important when the child is developing his movement which starts from turning, to crawling, to standing, to walking and finally running! Children themselves have the urge to learn all the steps of movement and we don’t have to teach them. We just need to prepare the environment to help them develop themselves.
As movement develops, so does exploration. I started making my home free from all the obstacles to movement and created open spaces to allow freedom to move around and to explore the house. This helped him feel secure and gave him the impression that this is a place where he can feel free to live the way he wants. I also gave him ample opportunity to move outdoors. I would always be at a distance and observe. I noticed that if he went near a step or a drain, he would stop himself and I never needed to caution him. We had a pond of fishes in the play area downstairs and he would observe the life in the pond with great interest.
“The foot is noble. To walk is noble. Thanks to the feet, the child who already walks can expect of the outdoors certain answers to his secret questions.” – Maria Montessori, Childhood to Adolescence
Coming to work, I have observed that a child always wants real work. We usually think that we must buy some toys so that our children can play while we can do our work. But it is not true. Children want to do the same work that we do. They observe us doing everything and try to imitate the same. When I was cooking one day, he observed that everything is going inside the utensil. He expressed it by saying ‘andar’ which means inside. He found a way to try out the same thing. He would ask for water to drink and then he would say ‘andar’. He wanted me to pour the water in the pot that was on the stove. Another thing he liked was to stay beside me in the kitchen while I cooked and then started opening the drawers within his reach to observe the different pots, pans and cutlery. His observation was so good that he knew which utensil could be used for what purpose. He was always looking to participate in every activity that the other family members were involved in. He was always on the move, finding something to do and if there wasn’t anything to do, he would roll about, ask for water, sip it, put the glass at different places, realize that there are different sounds that can be made with different objects and keep experimenting in every way possible.
“… Does Nature make a difference between work and play or occupation and rest? Watch the unending activity of the flowing stream or the growing tree. See the breakers of the ocean, the unceasing movements of the earth, the planets, the sun and the stars. All creation is life, movement, work. What about our hearts, our lungs, our bloodstream which work continuously from birth till death? Have they asked for some rest? Not even during sleep are they inactive. What about our mind which works without intermission while we are awake or asleep?” (Dr. Maria Montessori, ‘What You Should Know About Your Child’, Kalakshetra Publications, 138)
At one time, I observed that he was becoming destructive and wanted to throw things instead of constructing anything. This made me realise that there was some mistake I was making in my environment. I consulted my colleague at work and realised that I had a basket of different objects with no real purpose and were inappropriate for his age. He would often throw them around the whole room, and I used to let him be because I needed to do my work. But this wasn’t right because I was giving him freedom to work destructively. I was allowing for concentration to happen in destroying stuff. This behaviour showed with other stuff like food too.
“To let the child do as he likes when he has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom.” – Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
My colleague suggested that for him to become constructive, he would need real and purposeful work to be done fully from start to end. And I followed. I also removed all unwanted things from my house, and I saw changes in him. You won’t believe it when I say that I kept one single toy in the room which was appropriate for his age. He just started playing with it properly and I could leave him to play alone from then on!