My baby isn’t engaging as I’d imagined. Now what?
Below is some support available to you, but also know that you can always contact our team of Montessori Experts to provide you with personalized support through your Monti Kids journey. Contact us at [email protected]
If you are new to Monti Kids, regardless of what level you are on, know that a period of transition is normal as they get used to these types of toys and this prepared environment. If you have made lots of changes to your little one’s space, such as removing toys, you may be worried that you have gone from offering an abundance of playthings to a sparse offering. Take comfort in knowing that what you are offering is an intentionally curated environment that will empower your child to develop their ability to focus and persevere when they work on one thing at a time. This will be a transition for them but a temporary one.
If you’ve been with Monti Kids for a while and are noticing a change in your little one’s level of engagement you can ask yourself a few questions:
- Is your little one going through a big gross motor period (crawling, walking etc)?
- Have there been new changes to their space or life (illness, a move, new siblings, visitors etc.)?
- Are the toys available to them the right ones?
The first two questions are simple - if the answer is yes then we know there will be an impact on their work and play time. When your baby is occupied with a new gross motor skill such as pulling up to a stand, you will observe that they have little interest in anything else. It’s just pulling up, all day (and night for many!) A new house or sibling will also be a distraction. With time these preoccupations will become the new normal and your child will have mindspace once again for shelfwork.
For the third question -- are these the right toys at the right time? -- take a moment to assess what is being offered. Is your little one able to interact with the materials you have out successfully and therefore isn’t challenged by them currently? Or are they finding them a bit challenging and therefore avoiding them? If they are toys your child can easily do, rotate them out for ones they haven’t seen in a while and watch. Perhaps they will use them in a new way with new skills or exploration. If it’s the opposite, rotate these same toys in to become confidence builders as they firm up some skills for later use. Finding that sweet spot each week or even for one day is a fine art, but slowly and surely you’ll find your rhythm again.
A few other tried and true tips and more from our eBook (found here) are:
- Give your child time. If your child does not take interest in a toy right after you introduce it, or loses focus while playing, give her some more time with it. Give your child space to explore and discover the toy in her own unique way rather than encouraging the type of play you want to see, at the exact time you want to see it. Allowing your child to develop their interest for something in their own time will result in more independent play and deeper learning. Dr. Maria Montessori advised teachers to introduce a toy and then sit on their hands to avoid jumping in to assist a child before giving them ample time to explore.
- Role model. If you notice that your child has been neglecting a certain toy for a few days, casually choose that toy from the shelf and begin playing with it yourself. Without saying anything, allow your child to see how you enjoy exploring it. Play with focused enthusiasm and make your own discoveries!
- Remove distractions. Taking a step back and observing where your child’s attention goes can be helpful. Are your child’s tight overalls preventing her from moving easily between sitting to standing? Is the TV on and your child is getting distracted by the sounds or flashing images in the next room? Sometimes your child’s other toys can also present a distraction. If you want your child to learn from exploring simple wooden toys, you may not want to place them next to highly stimulating electronic toys with lights and music. More “passive” wooden toys require that your child become an active explorer to activate the toy. Whereas, very “active” toys with lights, sounds, and music often allow your child to slip into passive mode as they push a button and wait to be entertained.
- Manage your expectations. If your child plays for just a few minutes and then moves onto something else, remember that this is normal behavior for a young child. One of the primary goals of Montessori materials is to help babies and toddlers to build up their attention span, focus and concentration. Remember that this is a process and you will see improvement over time. Some things that can help to build your child’s focus are: allowing them to play uninterrupted (this includes holding back from praising them), keeping their play area simple and clutter-free, and avoiding over stimulating media.