After my previous post on Montessori preschool homeschool activities, I had a couple of mamas ask how I keep Lucy from interrupting Cameron when he is working. Keeping a toddler occupied while you work with your preschooler is no easy feat. I have been asked several times how I teach Cameron when Lucy is awake. I have previously done a round up of Montessori toddler activities including the best places around the web to find fun ideas for toddlers.
Always keep in mind that the child’s likelihood to happily play independently is dependent on the child. Just as it is dependent on their personality as to whether they will try to interfere with someone’s work. Lucy is definitely more independent but loves to be in the middle of what is going on. She will still sometimes annoy her brother (what are little sisters for!?) but not very often.
As a toddler, Cameron was a hoverer and I never made much of an effort to encourage him to play by himself until he was over 2 and I was heavily pregnant. Many of the activities I used to do with him indirectly fostered independence but it wasn’t very often that you would find him spending much time away from me.
Lucy is very different to how Cam was, and he is too now. They’re both great independent explorers in play and learning.
So how can you foster independence? I think the key things that made a difference for us (aside from Cameron growing up and Lucy being naturally more independent) were:
1. I stopped viewing myself as The Entertainer. You don’t have to play alongside your child/ren all the time.
2. Similar to above, I let my kids be bored. Boredom is goood! Kids need to learn how to entertain themselves.
3. I started encouraging lots of time for free play and observing what interests each child. What are they drawn to? What are they struggling with? What keeps their attention? How can I incorporate their interests into learning and play?
4. I let myself see that my time and needs are important – so that they could too. If I stop what I’m doing for every interruption, what message does that send my kids about the worth of what I’m doing? Of course, there are times that interruptions are necessary but I had to realise that being entirely child-centered wasn’t helpful for any of us.
5. I gave them the freedom to struggle and make mistakes. This may seem obvious to many, but when Cameron was a baby and toddler, I subconsciously made myself responsible for his happiness and success. I would swoop in if he was getting frustrated with a toy and would correct him. This led to him seeking my guidance more often than needed and I thankfully recognised the issue in time to turn it around.
Yes, she will genuinely spend a decent amount of time simply pumping soapy water into a bowl, scooping clear water beads or transferring gems with a spoon. It’s that easy. It’s all about keeping it simple, engaging and (this one is important) repetitive but with little mess. For many great ideas, see my toddler activity pinterest board.
What tips do you have for keeping infants and toddlers busy? I’m sure there is more obstacles with more than two children.
I would love for you to share my post or leave me a comment if this has helped or inspired you