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If you want to encourage more independent play, don't make the same mistake that I did recently...We have a small home in Toronto so there's no dedicated art station or table.Instead, I've been using a few drawers where I'd keep all our art supplies. Admittedly they've kinda turned into junk drawers the last few years ūüę£As part of my spring cleaning, I decided to finally organize them.Before I made this change,¬†I assumed my children just didn't enjoy making art as much as other kids.¬†Occasionally I would bring out some markers, crayons, or Chunkies and they might colour for a bit but they were never interested for very long.All the sudden our table is¬†covered in drawings from both children.

How could I have not realized this sooner?

Allowing children easy and independent access to their materials is a cornerstone of the Montessori approach and something I've taken care to set up in other areas of our home.Simply organizing the art supplies, allowed my children to do art when they were in the mood with the exact materials they wanted - instead of around my timeline and choices.Now they'll go into the drawers daily and spend at least 30 minutes drawing. THIS is why Montessori uses open shelves and trays - they make it easy for children to access their toys and materials. Open shelves also offer simplicity and order, something very important to children under age 3, who are in the Sensitive Period for Order.

By presenting materials on a shelf like this:

Instead of a toy box, where everything is mixed up in one big pile, can completely change the way a child interacts with their toys.

So next time you're wondering why your child isn't showing interest in a toy or activity, ask yourself:

  1. Can your child access it independently, whenever they want to use it?
  2. Are all the materials organized and in one place?
  3. Is it overwhelming?

Because here's the thing - small hurdles, like digging through a toy box to find all the pieces of an activity or choosing between twenty different toys, might not seem like a big deal.

BUT for a small child, these are real barriers to begin playing.When in doubt, keep it simple, organized, and easily accessible.