Let The Child Lead!

In this guest post Kris of Flockmen  shares great insight into the importance of child-directed play, and how we can provide the best platform for children’s free play and discovery.

let the child lead wooden toys open ended play flockmam (4)

Are you always busy, rushing, occupied, running from one place to another seldom having a chance to stop, think and let your child have a play with whatever he/she wants and chooses to do?

The world shouts from every corner you must have this, your child should be doing that, rarely examining whether or not it is really necessary or beneficial for your little learner, busy worker, and a fun playmate.

Take a moment and think about the last time your child played contently on their own, completely captivated by their own activity.

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toys and blocks on wooden shelf

The greatest help you can give your child is the freedom to go about their own work in their own way. We should be guided by the child (M. Montessori, 1989), giving them opportunities to make choices, develop concentration and let their minds grow, just like their bodies do.

Here are some Do’s & Don’ts, to encourage child-led play!


Take Part

When a child has shown and interest in a toy or game they wish you to play and they come to you asking to join in – TAKE PART. Even if you are not a big fan of the particular game. Show full support and engagement. It will encourage your child to practice initiative and choose their own activities. Try asking the child to choose toys and games that wish to do, rather than always handing them ideas straight away. If the child is reluctant to do it, give instruction and direction, that will help them build confidence and independence.

Be Ready
Prepare the environment for the child. Look at your child’s room, and examine the spaces your child uses the most throughout the day. Is it cluttered and confusing? Does your child have too many choices? Avoid putting everything in one big box, it doesn’t give opportunities to choose and learn the ability to tidy when finished. An organized toy shelf teaches children order and establishes a pattern of structure from a young age. Make sure children can reach their toys independently. Prepare the setting, for children to be able to make choices, as they learn to make their own decisions in their life (M. Montessori 1989).

Step Back and Observe
If a child is struggling with something, don’t jump right in to save the day. Let your child develop perseverance. Wait and see how she/he copes with the situation and step in when necessary, with support to enable the child to deal with a similar situation. It helps the child develop problem solving skills.


Don’t interrupt
Don’t interfere when your child is playing or doing a particular activity on their own. Being occupied with a task, a toy or a game helps children build their concentration – it is an important part of life (M. Montessori, 1998). Interference stops activity and concentration, however, keep your eyes open for the moments that the child may be disturbed or is in a mood for naughtiness. Put on your policeman hat and defend, instruct where & when necessary.

Reserve Your Praise
Choose the times for praise wisely. Praise breaks the enhancement (M. Montessori, 1989), therefore try not to comment, when the child is deeply captivated by their activity and their imagination. It is not easy, but your child will benefit from having an uninterrupted time to him/herself.

woman playing with child on floor with wooden blocks

To find out how you can practice a child-led play with Flockmen go here.

Most importantly remember, that if the child has the freedom to develop, the result will be seen at the adult stage (M. Montessori, 1989). Childhood lays the foundation for each individual’s personality and response to life (Lillard & Jensen, 2003).


Kris co-founded Flockmen to remind the today’s digital world of the basics – enjoying the family time together through natural and open ended play. His days are spent between being a husband, father and a business developer at world’s leading IT company who was at the forefront of delivering Rio 2016 Olympic games. He is passionate about building thoughtful products that make people lives better.

children playing with wooden toys

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About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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