I recently received a question from Mommy Jen, who has a 14 month old daughter, Pippa. She wrote:
Hi teacher Tanya! My dilemma is I don’t know what specific activity to give to my daughter. Also i look after our family business, its a retail store, we sell bikes-mountain and road bikes and accessories. Whenever we go to the shop, i cant work, kase i end up looking after her. We bring toys in the shop that she can play but she wont play with them. When we are in the office upstairs para she has a place to play ayaw naman nya, she wants to stay downstairs and tinker and grabe everything that she can reach.
Dear Mommy Jen,
I’m very sure that most moms out there, especially, those who work from home, can relate well to what you are experiencing right now. I also work from home most of the time, and it’s always a challenge to manage my work and looking out after her. Let me share with you what has been working for me and other strategies that you can apply based on early childhood education principles.
Expect that your daughter, will be more active, meaning, she will definitely move, and explore a lot because she is in that “toddler stage”. It will very much different from when she was 6 months old or younger, when you can easily leave her in the crib, while you do your own chores or tasks. This time, it will be very, very challenging since children at this age are probably walking already, learning to crawl up the stairs or wanting to go down the stairs.
Aside from wanting to move around, toddlers also like doing anything with their hands. This means that your daughter will definitely touch, hold and grab any object that she sees in her immediate environment. That’s how curious and able, toddlers are! 🙂
Your main concerns are the following:
1) She doesn’t seem to play with the toys you give her…
2) She doesn’t want to stay in the area you have provided for her…
3) How do you get to work when you just end up looking after her….
Let me focus on each of your concerns one by one:
1) Let me go back to the guidelines for choosing toys I wrote in my article entitled: Babies and Play Series: Part 2
a) Is it appropriate for the developmental stage of my child?
b) Is it safe?
c) Is it durable? Is it easy to maintain?
d) does it require the involvement of my child?
e) Is it of interest to my child?
Think about the toys and materials you give your daughter.
Toys for toddlers (from Judy Herr, Working with Young Children, 1998) should include the ff:
1) Blocks: interlocking blocks, unit blocks, wooden figures
2) For Large Muscle Equipment: large foam blocks, wagon, tricycle, simple climber and slide
3) For Dramatic Play: doll bed, blankets, mattress, unbreakable doll, wooden telephone; simple doll clothes; doll carriage; child-sized sink, stove, pots, pans, aprons
4) For Sensory and Science: sponges, buckets, funnels, pitchers, measuring cups, sand table, water table
5) For creative art and books: large crayons, hard books, cloth books, tapes, tape player, play dough, picture books, paste, finger paint
6) Other materials: stacking and nesting toys, pull toys, 3 to 5 piece puzzles, stacking cones, peg boards, large wooden threading beads, rest mat, small cots
For question 2: Reflect on the following questions with regard to your child’s play environment:
a)Have you looked into the area where you leave your child?
b)How is your area set-up?
c)Does it engage interaction and exploration for your child?
d) Is your area designed in such a way that your child can easily access the toys you have provided?
e) Is there enough space to move around? Is it even safe to go around?
For question 3:
Routine is the key in helping you establish a schedule that will enable you to work while you look after your child. Establishing a routine for your child will provide a predictable schedule for your child, as children find comfort in a sense of predictability and structure. Here are a few questions:
1) How do you go about your day? From waking up to sleeping time?
2) How do you plan your schedule once you leave your home for work and while you are at work with your child?
Your routine should include waking up time (this is the time where your child is the most active, where he is able to play); sleeping time/nap time; eating time; reading time; bathing time)
Having a routine does not mean that you will be able to leave your child on her own in the room while you go about with work. This only sets a schedule that enables you to somehow manage your schedule at work.
I still think that you would need an extra hand or assistance in managing your store while your child is with you, especially when your child needs to be changed, put to sleep, etc. It might work if you identify blocks of time wherein you think you can have someone manage the store while you attend to your child or have someone look out for your child while you take your store shift.
Hope this helps, Jen!
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