Follow The Child

You all do this; I know you do!

Remember when you let them have free reign over the Tupperware cupboard? That was because you knew your little one would enjoy it.

Remember when you went to the park? That was because you knew your little one would love it.

You know your child better than anyone else

This was Aidan, on a train to nowhere. Pure joy. Pure happiness!

Where do I start?

1.LEARN WHAT INTERESTS YOUR CHILD.

Listen, watch and then listen some more!

It might be as obvious as cars and trucks or it might be something harder to understand, like pulling everything out of the drawers! Either way they are showing you an interest.

The best way to learn what interests your child is to get down on their level, with no agenda other than to watch and support them. Remember when you took them to the park? Did they spend the whole time on the slide or did they play with the gravel on the path?

The Tupperware cupboard, what did your little one actually do? Once everything was all over the kitchen floor, were they trying to match the lids? Were they stacking the containers? Were they making music with them? Were they cooking or feeding themselves? What part of the Tupperware cupboard was making them feel happy?

When your child gravitates towards something, observe what they are doing. That is what interests them. It might be different to what you expect. It might not be how you would play. It might be ‘frustrating’ for you to watch (cue Evie emptying alllllllll the drawers!). BUT this is what gives them joy and is interesting to them.

Evie & her cousin feeling very proud of their new Tupperware hats!

2. LEARN YOUR CHILD’S SKILL LEVEL

You know SO much about your child!  You know if they can sit with stability, can stand, can lift, can talk, can mimic words, can pick up small objects the list goes on!

Can they pick up that speck of dirt you missed with the vacuum? (fine motor skills)

Can they open the kitchen cupboards? (Gross motor skills)

Can they find objects you have hidden behind your back? (Object permanence)

Do they know where their snacks are kept? (Problem solving)

Can they copy words and sounds? (Oral language)

All these are little milestones in their lives that are often over looked. That speck of dirt is amazing fine motor control, the object behind your back is great problem solving and object permanence!

Every child has a different physical and mental ability. This needs to be taken into consideration when engaging with them and offering play opportunities. This goes back to feeling successful. You do not want a task to be too hard for them!

Now What?

Ok, so your know what your child likes and you have a grasp on their abilities. Now what?

Make their interests work, for you and them!


Evie pulling everything out of the drawers does not work for me. At all. So, I provide her with other opportunities to empty and fill containers. It might be a bucket of balls, it might be a shoe box of material scraps, it might be a bag with assorted toys in it.

Use their interests to challenge them as well. Last week I made this colour sort for Evie. It was basic but she loved it because it involved transferring objects and putting them in and out of containers – her interests. Just like that I have one engaged little kiddo!

Click the photo for more details on the colour sort!

I am still not getting it – HEELLPP!

All still sounds too hard and overwhelming?

Yup I totally get that, I have totally been there, and I still often go back there. Sometimes it feels likes as soon as I start understanding Aidan and Evie they go and change on me!

There is one more little secret I am going to let you in on and it is a good one. It sounds fancy. It sounds complicated BUT it isn’t.

It is called Schemas – it is this la-di-da word for the urges that children have to do things, like throw things, carry things, hide etc.

Do yourself a favour, click this link….

Look down the first column and I guarantee you will find the Author, Michelle Thornhill, describing your child. Next to that description you will find a ready-made list of all the different objects and toys your little one will LOVE to interact with!

I cannot take credit for this document, I did not write it! Michelle Thornhill did and I love love love love it. I think it so valuable in identifying the needs of your little one!

Has that little taste of the world of schemas excited you? WELL I have more!


Cheryl from @play.around.sydney is a child led learning advocate, and teacher, who shares the science of play based learning AND practical ways to let your child take the lead!

Her instagram account is FULL of practical and easy ways to follow the child and she always makes time to help you out if you have any questions!

And as always, if you are ever stuck, if you are ever confused or just want to chat about play; slip me a DM or an email!

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