Prepared Environment

During the first few years of life, the child’s environment has to be constantly modified to support his changing needs.  The first twelve months weren’t such a challenge: mobiles gave way to hanging rings, then a few toys at ground level to encourage rolling over, followed by rolling objects to encourage crawling.  A bar offered opportunities to pull up and cruise, and a push cart provided the necessary stability to encourage walking.

Now Zach is just shy of 14 months old, walking steadily, and not the least bit interested in toys.  His one goal in life these days is to imitate EVERYTHING we do.  He wants to brush his hair and teeth, pour out  his potty, hold his fork, use a dustpan and brush, toss veggies in the soup pot, dig in the dirt… If we do it, he wants to do it, too.  He is being driven to become a human being “of his place and time”; his focus has narrowed from “I want to do what others in my species can do” to “I want to do what others in my social group can do”.  His hands are constantly at work, exploring, discovering, comparing.

It’s becoming more challenging to meet his needs, simply because he wants to participate in every facet of our lives!  The areas I’m focusing on right now are:

  • Care of self: setting up a small table and mirror where he can brush his hair and make sure his face is clean;
  • Food preparation: giving him opportunities to scrub vegetables, peel fruit, and transfer chopped veggies into a pot;
  • Gardening: establishing an outdoor environment for independent work with water, soil, and seeds.

In the next few weeks I’ll post pictures of our progress.  If you have any experiences to share with other readers and me, please add them to the comments!


8 thoughts on “Prepared Environment

  1. Would love to hear what tips you and other reader have! I’ve been working with my 13 mo to clean her own face and wash the floors with me. She just plays in the water or dumps out the water and splashes on the floor. I’m thinking she just needs more exploration time.

    1. She could certainly be asking for more exploration time, but also keep in mind that it’s super important to manage the environment; start with the tiniest bit of water, only the water you’re comfortable cleaning up off the floor. 🙂 Maybe give her a wet sponge to clean the floor, followed by a dry rag to dry it. Or perhaps set up a little dish with a tiny bit of water and a brush to scrub a potato. Remember that it’s up to us to control the environment so they will be successful and we won’t be driven mad cleaning up huge spills. 🙂

      1. True that. When I give her a rag to clean the floor, she throws it out of her way and then gets her hands in the water and splashes. Which as I type this, I realize that she is most likely imitating bathtime behavior, where Daddy taught her how to splash and how fun it is.

  2. Oh, i forgot this one too. It’s a long one, but I think I got a few key things in there. However, this is my personal experience for my family and my home. It’s not for all. As my mom continually tells me “you do what you can with what you have”. This has become ingrained in me as we all have various backgrounds and circumstances in life that create our families to be quite unique.

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