Somebody was very proud of herself today. While I was upstairs using the toilet, I heard banging. This usually means she’s bashing on the shelf of books on the telephone stand, or taking the books out onto the floor. When I came out and looked down, Miss E was on step number 4 of the stairs looking very pleased with herself. I came down and stood behind her as she continued on her travels and she made it to the top looking as pleased with herself as someone who’s just conquered Mount Everest.
What to do now? Well, I guess a lot of people would rush out and buy a stairgate. We have one at the top, which can be seen in the picture, so that when we’re all upstairs getting ready she has freedom to roam but won’t fall down. I won’t be buying one for the bottom for a number of reasons. One is that when you turn something into a serious no-go area you feed a child’s desire to do exactly what you don’t want them to do. This turns into a major battle and scene of frustration for both parties involved. Mainly though, because we are Montessorians at heart. We believe that children are capable and independent…Miss E has just proven that as she has had no coaching from us whatsoever in getting up the stairs and knew just how to get herself up them quickly and efficiently on her first try. We believe it is our respsonsibility to foster her independence going at her pace and ensuring that she is able to complete everyday tasks herself. Because of this, now that she is able to get herself up the stairs, we need to help her put her newfound skills to use with purpose; taking herself upstairs for a bath etc. To do this, a stairgate isn’t necessary. What is required is the time and effort from the parents. Stairgates are an easy answer. They keep a child safe with minimal effort on the parent’s part as you can get on with your activities without having to keep checking on them every few seconds. Bliss! But it doesn’t help a child in their quest to complete tasks they are capable of by themselves under supervision. So, for the next while, I am going to have to ensure Miss E accompanies me on all trips upstairs. I will need to ensure that, if we are in the lounge, I either accompany her on all her little trips out of the lounge so I can be with her if she decides to climb the stairs, or I will need to ensure the door is closed so she cannot leave the room without my knowledge. I need to allow her to explore her physical capablities of being able to get up the stairs on her own and let her relish the sense of achievement and indpendence she gets through completing this task. I also need to teach her a safe way to get back down the stairs. This will all take time and effort on my part, but, to me, it’s worth it. She is going to have to learn to get herself up and down stairs one day, and I may as well cash in on her current interest now so it becomes less of an intrigue and game and more just a normal part of functioning in life.