Friday, 13 January 2012

Why do toddlers line things up?

Does your toddler line everything up?

Freddy (25 months) has been lining things up neatly for nearly a year now and the phase shows no sign of ending.

He lines up his cars (at 6am).....


He lines up his toys, potties and bags....,


And he even lines up his art supplies......


He has a lovely cousin who also lines his cars up so I was really intrigued to investigate why he might be doing it.

Montessori observed that a sensitive period for order starts from birth and peaks at 18 months to 2.5 years and prolongs to age five and it is characterised by a desire for consistency and repetition.   In fact it is perhaps one of the biggest reasons for the perception of the 'terrible twos', along with the desire for independence, when a child is upset that something is 'not as it should be'.

By creating order in the external world the internal mind becomes ordered and this gives a sense of comfort to most children.  I also think it's a wonderful example of the start of catagorisation skills that will help him to make sense of the world around him.

I can't help but smile when I discover one of his little 'works';  it's just the way that he does it and then walks off with not even a 'tadaaa!!'

15 comments:

  1. So neatly lined up. I think the "order" thing is right, as well as perhaps a trajectory play schema http://www.dorsetforyou.com/357248)

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  2. Absolutely fascinating Rach, thanks so much for sharing xx

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  3. Rachel these pics are cute - he def. is consistent, you might want to read a bit about schemas - according to Piaget children adopt schemas to make sense of the world and seems like there is a clear schema emerging here, you can offer him activities to extend it and more opportunities to "line up things" am sure he will enjoy that :)

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  4. Silly me - didn't see comment above :) schemas are a fascinating thing to observe in children :)

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  5. Thanks Sana,
    I'm going to read about it this evening; thank you so much for suggesting it. Is there a book you would recommend or just general internet searches?
    Rachael x

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  6. HI Rachel, I do have some literature on schema but mainly photo copies from various books which I kept from my studies (I did a post graduate course on child development) will try to dig them out - in the meantime am sure Mr Google will provide lots of info :)

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  7. Hi Sana,
    I've been researching this a lot the last few days and it's fascinating. I would love to read whatever you found. Do you have a blog? With a background like yours it would be really interesting to read.
    x

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  8. One of my twins started doing that even with foo, I was wandering if is NOrmal..?

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    1. How interesting that only one of your twins does this! Perhaps indicating a natural disposition towards order. Freddy is still lining thing us at 3 years old and showing no signs of stopping. As he develops it is becoming clear that his mind is extremely ordered too and he learns from understanding a complete process rather than just the outcome.

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  9. I was frightened because I googled it and the first word that comes out is Autism, althoug I talked to other moms and they say it is normal in many kids to do so... Isabella(one of the triplets not twins...have an angel up in heaven) started doing it about 2 months ago I think blocks stuiffed animal and sometimes food, It really makes me feel so calm to know that other kids do that. Is Freddy very active or more quiet?

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    1. Believe me I did that too. Freddy also has a cousin who is exactly the same and still lining things up at 5 years old. It's fascinating to watch because at first he just used to line up all of his cars in one huge line around a rug in the living room, then he started to line them up in groups of different colours, then by size, then by number of seats and so on. You could see that he was learning his colours, numbers, shapes and sizes through his lines of cars. Personally I try to embrace his love of order and give him activities that appeal to this need.

      I think it probably makes it even more evident to you if you have one child doing this and not the other but how wonderful that they will both bring something different to the family as you all grow together.

      As for the question of how active Freddy is well I have to say that he is truly the most active child I have ever met! He has always been extremely strong and agile - he took his first steps at 8.5 months and was walking a mile at a time at 10 months old. He cannot sit still for more than a minute and even jumps up and down while he is eating.

      His emotional development always lagged behind his gross motor skills which was extremely hard for all of us at times oh and of course he has slept through the night less than 10 times in 3 years. We are convinced that if we had gone to the doctor asking if he had autism he would have received the diagnosis. But things change so quickly and we realise now just how special he is!

      So please try not to be worried :)

      How old are your twins?

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    2. Thats what people tell me give them time every child develops diferent even twins or multiples.

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  10. So it means that kids learn from understanding a complete process rather than just outcome? I really like your blog Rachael, very fun and informative.Thanks!

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    1. Do you do any Montessori activities with your twins? I can imagine that they would be well suited to your twin that enjoys lining things up.

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    2. Montessori? What exactly is that?I heard about those prek schools here in America call Montessori, but no, they never gone to daycare or any school. Im about to do the Mother's day out once a week. They never been away from home (2years5months)so It might be a little hard at the beginning. But I know it is time for them to socialize.

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