As I was reading a blog (surprise), a statement popped out at me, and encouraged me to revisit the amount of "stuff" Dominic has immediately available to him. It also led me to think about how successful and independent he is outside in our backyard because of the carefully selected and greatly limited "things" to do. Here's the quote that stood out: "one easy way that families could make things easier for themselves is to cut down on the 'stuff' and really focus on what activities seem to be attractive to their child at any given time," and here's a link to the blog I was reading. It really stood out because of how true it is at our house, and how crazy I get at home when it seems like he is just running from mess to mess (which has been the case lately).
The other day I put away a few random toys and activities that had just been sitting around being clutter, and in my rushing around, I left out my bucket full of clothespins from hanging out the diapers. Later in the evening after realizing that things were "too quiet" and worrying that I might have lipstick - or worse, sharpie - colored on my hallway walls, I found Dominic "working" on clipping each clothespin to the lip of the bucket. He painstakingly opened each clip, moved the clips to make room for the next one along the lip, adjusted and re-adjusted the way he gripped the clip to get it on the bucket, and was outright and painstakingly concentrating on this "work." While I think this is an activity often utilized in Montessori classrooms, he discovered this motivation on his own, and set out to complete it without any external guidance from me or Ryan. In fact, I think he noticed it because all the other junk was cleared away, and I think he stuck with it because he was not interrupted by us even when we noticed that it was a little past bedtime.
Another instance of beautiful concentration was at his cousin, Elizabeth's, birthday party over the past weekend. While closely observed by adults, the children were hesitant to play and interact, but as the party wore on and the adults found themselves engaged in chatting and eating, the children found so much to do outside in the sandbox with the sand toys, climbing the tree house and sliding down the slide, bouncing in the moonwalk, and coloring with sidewalk chalk. At times they played together, and at times they spread out to work on individual activities, but the most amazing part was that they required little to no adult intervention while they were playing outside. It was a lovely example of Montessori's observation of the inherent desires to be profitably occupied, to have independence, and to have community.