Babies Who Teach Themselves

I took this amazing video of one of my babies a few weeks ago, but sadly I can’t post it here. I was hoping to but I’d have to pay WordPress $60 for the option. I haven’t bought myself new work shoes in over a year. The video option ain’t happenin.

So picture if you will: a nine-month-old baby sitting on the 4′ X 5′ patch of wooden floor between the playroom and livingroom. He has a plastic pot from the cooking set and he’s bouncing it around on the floor. It’s spinning and rolling around, making a cool popping noise.

The edge of the carpet in each room delineates this perfect play space, because when the pot hits either rug, it stays close. Every time it stops moving he scoots over to grab it. He throws it again and the cycle begins anew (except when he takes occasional breaks to chew on it).

He does this for about half an hour every day, I’m not kidding. He’s totally focused, not paying attention to or even interested in whatever chaos is going on around him. He’s just totally zeroed in on that pot. It’s very zen, to be honest. I love watching him do it.

As I watched him I realized he was hitting about a dozen learning targets in just this simple action. He’s getting hand-eye coordination, learning to recognize sounds, working on both small and large motor skills. He’s entertaining himself – not only is that a small miracle for a nine-month old, but that’s what you call self-directed learning.

About a week after he started doing this, he was crawling.

Can you imagine? All the amazing things going on in his brain during those quiet moments, all the growth he’s experiencing with this “child’s play.” To the casual observer it would seem like nothing, but I guess it’s true what they say – play is children’s work.

And how can I quantify this on a report? If I write “Mr. W played with a cup for half an hour” I’d look totally negligent. Yeah, I left some trash on the floor and when he found it he had something to play with… As my husband would say, here come the people with the clipboards.

But any smart grownup knows the box is the best part of the new toy.

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