יום שלישי, 24 בפברואר 2009

כמעט ולא משתמשים יותר בעגלה (who needs a stroller any longer?)

Yesterday I was asked by tobeparents the following question:

Hello, I don't understand Hebrew at all but I constantly 'read' your blog through pictures :) and I would like to ask you about the walking. Do you use stroller sometimes? I am amazed by your walking trips. Our son is 13 months old now and he has just started walking 2 weeks ago. We try to give him plenty of time to walk at home and outside. We love Montessori approach to live and would like to do our best and we like learning from your pictures. My question is what your approach to walking is? Thanks for the picture

Thanks so much for commenting! I am so glad you have asked me this question. I was about to write about the stroller for quite a while. Thank you for encouraging me to do so!

We hardly use the stroller right now. Long before I've learned about the Montessori approach, I couldn't understand why children who are old enough to walk by themselves (2-3 years) are constantly carried in strollers. I felt so pity for them - it was obvious that it was for the sake of their parents, and not taking in consideration their needs. So I was so happy to find out that Montessorians emphasize giving a child as much freedom as he needs.

We have always treated the stroller as merely a mean of transportation. The minute we arrived at the place we intended to go, we took our son out of it. He started walking on his own when he was 15 months old (almost 3 months ago - already??). But even prior to this point, when he was walking while holding our hands, he started to like more and more walking by the stroller, and not sitting in it. If it wasn't too much trouble for us (usually, our walks are to the park nearby the house), we would let him do it.

When he started walking on his own, you just couldn't stop him. Raising a Montessori child by yourself, you probably know what I mean. Their independence is so important to them. We have just followed him. It was amazing to observe him - with each passing day, he walked more steadily and for longer distances. In about a month since he started walking, we noticed that the stroller is more of a burden for us than a help for us. We used it until we arrived in the park (300-400 m away from our house), but then our son just wanted to walk. Instead of following his lead totally, we should have always returned to the stroller. We weren't free to go to any direction. It was a bit annoying. And yet I was a bit of afraid of letting the stroller go.

It took me almost a month. Of course, as always, our son was ready way before me. He wasn't even surprised when at some day we left the stroller at home and just started walking. Should I tell you what a relief it was! Our daily walks (we have two of them - in the morning and late afternoon) started to be even nicer than before. We could walk in any direction our son or us wanted. I take with me this little bag with a few things (snacks, drink, diapers for a change), and we just start walking. He leads me - I am there just for support. When he wants to stop to look closely at something, he stops, when he is interested to enter anywhere, he does so, when he is up for a climb, I help him.

Of course, he is still not a strong walker. Sometimes he doesn't want to walk for too long, sometimes he is tired. This is alright with us. We have never forced our son to walk. Whenever he wants to, we take him on our arms. But then we weren't too enthusiastic about encouraging him to walk either - we didn't use the Wagon Walk or anything else. We are not in a hurry. We believe strongly that our son knows what is best for him - physically, at least. He is such a smart little man. Until recently, he asked to stay on our hands while walking to the park. But then we bought him a little umbrella. The reason for buying the umbrella was not too sophisticated. He simply saw it in the shop, started playing with this, loved it, started walking with it, its cost was only 4$, and it just came to me out of nowhere - he might use it as a pull along toy! Well, maybe it was a bit sophisticated after all. It was a miracle! Somehow, this little umbrella encourages him to walk even more. For the past 2 days, he walked the full distance from our house to the park... with the umbrella in his hand!

Perhaps, this approach doesn't suit everybody. The one should have patience, time and interest in it. For us, this is the only possible way we found! You should see this happiest smile on his face when he walks, as well as when he does anything by himself. This encourages us to continue following him. This is the least we could do. Of course, when we are in a hurry, we take him on our hands. Also, for the meantime, when we should go on a longer distance, we still use the stroller. But we try always to explain to him while he is not walking right now on his own.

What I am meaning to say, as always in the Montessori approach, just follow your son. Try not to expect from him a thing, but keep providing him enough opportunities to walk by himself. He needs practice to walk on long distance walks. And observe him. I am sure you will notice, as in any sensitive period, when your son becomes obsessed with walking on his won. And then just support him.

I hope this answers your question. Please feel free to ask anything that is of any interest to you. Thank you for stopping by!

תגובה 1:

tobeparents אמר/ה...

Thanks for giving your time to answer my question in so full way :) That was really helpful. I like your approach and wisdom. It is good to see the smile on the face of your child when he walks in every picture so he is really in the sensitive period for walking. To say more about our son's road to walking. He started to stand up on his own at his low shelf when he was 6 months old, later he walks along a wall or bed but he was mostly crawling till 12 months and half. We bought a walker wagon when he was 10 months old and it was placed in the living room for two months but he used it maybe 10 times during this period for no longer than 1 minute so now I think the walker wagon is not necessary at all and I even think that when he tries it few times it went to fast for him so he surely didn't feel comfortable with it. We decided to pack it and hide. Then 2 weeks later just after his first birthday he just stood up at a shelf and walked to his kitchen shelf for a bib. Since that time he has been finding more and more pleasure in walking every day and sometimes he walk outside for a really long moment but of course he is tired often too. However it is really a happy and big achievement for him and we think he is starting his sensitive period for walking. This week he has started to stand up on his own without any help or furniture. Thank you once more for your answer and we are looking forward to your next pictures. And this little umbrella is really a miracle :) Take care. Rafal 

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