By Jenny Witt
Remember the movie, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids? There is that moment when the children become so small that the blades of grass seem to be the size of jungle trees. Their once fun backyard turns into a danger zone, and even the tiniest ants are as large as dinosaurs!
In our homes and in the daily activities of life, young children are processing the big world in which they live. Objects normal to adults may seem very large and can be overwhelming, overstimulating, or intimidating to the young child. To gain the perspective of your young child’s big world, seat yourself on the floor in the living room or eating area of your house to see the furniture of your home at a new angle.
From that perspective, imagine how inviting a soft, cozy, child-sized chair would be for your little one. If you place it in the living room, it will become their new favorite seat! This is a thoughtful and timely first birthday gift.
You can increase the enjoyment of this little sitting area by adding a basket containing no more than three or four board books (remember, you don’t want to overwhelm the child). These can be changed out with new books once a week. And because the child has a natural desire to learn the names of objects, board books with real images of human faces, animals, plants, or moving vehicles are age-appropriate. The repetition of naming these things out loud with your child engages her mind and the hard pages allow her to learn how to turn and discover on her own.
For the eating area, when your child outgrows the highchair you can add a booster seat to an adult chair. Or what may be even better is a weaning table and chair. The benefit of a weaning table and chair is your child’s ability to place their feet on the ground. This support of their body increases their comfort. They may also enjoy doing other activities such as Play-Doh at “their” table. If you want to save money, be on the lookout for an adjustable table and chair sets that grow with your child.
As children master the art of walking, they also climb to develop their nervous system’s ability to coordinate. Do you have climbing areas in your home that can become dangerous? Is the flooring under that area hard or soft? For the hard surfaces, place a rug under the area to soften a potential fall. In addition, your child will enjoy the texture change between the hard and soft surface.
Lastly, climbing a staircase is like climbing the Rocky Mountains for the young child, and excellent for the nervous system. However, just as it is not advised that you go hiking alone in the mountains, it is essential that an adult is present to keep a child safe while they climb the stairs. Place a gate at the staircase so you can ensure your child can only practice this climbing activity in a controlled setting with an adult present to belay a fall and to coach them in their new skill.
Jenny Witt is a Certified Montessori Infant Toddler Teacher, a Certified Early Childhood and Primary Teacher, a Director of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, and has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).