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February 05, 2018

Ignoring the Shelf Work -- Montessori Young Toddler Week 9

"Not all those who wander are lost."

Life with Augustus can be summed up in two words right now -- busy and busy. With a new found physical freedom, Gus doesn't want to stop moving, ever. His sole mission right now is to explore every aspect of every part of the entire world. With one exception - the materials on his shelf. 

Sometimes Montessori shelf work is ignored in favor of movement! And, that's ok.

Over the last couple of weeks, Gus' interest in his Montessori friendly toys has gone way way down. He just is too busy wandering around with someone's toothbrush to stop and use an imbucare box. That's not to say he never uses materials, because he does. But, just not the 40 minutes of sitting that happened before he was walking. It's a new phase in his development. He has more important things to do than worry about the things I've put on a shelf. He's got to -- move! His shift has been gross motor development all the way. 

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Children are driven to move from birth. And Montessori respects their freedom of movement at each stage of their development. This doesn't just mean avoiding baby containers while they are an infant, but it means respecting their intense desire and need to move as they grow. We need to not just see it as busy, wandering but valuable work that is helping to develop a child's full potential. 
"Children have a need for free movement from birth on. They also need to have their activity accepted and assisted, depending on their age, so that the movement can become of value to themselves and to others." Silvana Montanaro, Understanding the Human Being.
So, even if this stage feels aimless, I will respect Gus' work. I will still make sure my environment is prepared for him, but I know that he just needs to move. Even if it doesn't seem productive. I know the shelf work can wait, and that he will eventually return to it. But for now, he's got one thing on his mind, movement! 

For Nora, this stage lasted a couple of months. Then, she suddenly started a language explosion and work became important again. So, for now, I accept the busyness. Even if that means our beautiful shelves go unused. Again, my role is to prepare the environment, offer opportunities, and accept and respect where he is right now. 

Have you noticed this shift in focus in your older baby/younger toddler? Has your shelf work gone unused? 

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