Ya'll know how much I LOVE to let Cole discover things for himself - especially mundane and silly things, like how to sit on his rocking chair (it took him 3 months to figure out all on his own that the rocking chair was his to sit in - and the pride on his face when he figured it out was PRICELESS!).
So when I introduced crayons to him a few months ago, I didn't want anyone to "show" him how to use them. What if he finds a better way to play with them? Who am I to tell him how to play?
And sure enough, Cole hasn't disappointed. While he did discover how to color with them, it doesn't hold much appeal for him. Nope, when he asks to play with the crayons, it's not to color with them, but to dump them out of the box and then put them one at a time back in the box.
Over and over and over again.
Dump them out, put them back in.
It's time consuming. It's painstaking. As amazing as his fine motor skills are, it can take a good half hour to get all 24 (ok 23.5...he ate a bite when I wasn't looking. oops parenting fail) crayons into that little box. But he is persistent. He is focused. And he is independent.
It's just more proof for me how important it is to not direct play or show kids how to play. He might not be playing with the crayons the way I would play with them, but he's enjoying himself and learning. And what if I had taken it upon myself to "help" him put the crayons in the box? He wouldn't have discovered how much he enjoys putting them away. He would have brought the box to me because he would have thought he needed help.
If I had insisted ("No, that's not how you play with crayons. Look! Look, I'll show you...watch! You color with them. Look at the pretty colors!") on showing him how to color with them and encouraged him to color, he would have lost interest. Instead, by allowing him to choose how to play with an object, he has a much longer attention span.
The less I do, the more I realize that the more I help his learning and independence by doing less. By "helping" or "showing", I hinder his learning and playing. How I wish more parents and caregivers would simply sit back and observe their child's play time, instead of interfering and "teaching" - because when we put our trust in our child's curiousity and ability to learn all on their own, we teach them more than would have ever been possible otherwise.