One of the things I learned in all my research on Jeshuah’s development is that he ought to be able to stack blocks. While we had received some wooden letter blocks for Christmas, I had been using them to spell words and it hadn’t occured to me to see if he could stack them. He had never tried to before. With any and all toys, Jeshuah is only interested in two things: can it be spun or turned over repeatedly, and does it make loud noise if I bang it on something hard? (I should also add “Can I eat it?” to that list of interests, edible or not!). One day, I sat down with him and showed him how to stack them. He simply tapped them loudly on the table, smiling. I continued showing him, but he didn’t care about stacking, just wanted to tap, tap, tap.
The next day, we tried again. He immediately placed one block on top of the other, then knocked them down and tap, tap, tap. I cheered him on and kept showing him how to stack more. He would stack one on the other, then knock them down and move on. But the next time, he could stack three! This was vast improvement, indeed.
Last Tuesday we drove home for a bridal shower for my brother and his fiancee. Poppa (my very own Pops:-) babysat Jeshuah while I attended, and when I left, Pops was patiently trying to teach Jeshuah to stack the blocks instead of just tapping or spinning them. I have no idea how long they did it, but as soon as we drove home the following day, I put Jeshuah at the coffee table with his toy bins and went to unload the car. When I returned, I found him pulling all the wooden blocks from the bins and placing them on the table. He then took one, then another, then another, stacking them carefully onto each other until he had built a tower five blocks high!! I could hardly believe it as I stood in the doorway, watching him build contentedly. The therapists were pleased that he could stack two or three, but five! That is talent.
It has since occured to me that perhaps Jeshuah does not self-learn or self-teach like most babies his age. I notice this particularly when he is with other babies. While they explore and play imaginatively, experimenting with toys and trying new things with them, Jeshuah only does three things with toys: spin/turn, bang, eat/gnaw. However, I began to wonder if this might indicate that he could learn how to play with toys if he was taught very, very purposefully. After all, he had never attempted to stack things before, and now he was stacking like a pro! This would fit with my suspicions that he falls in the gifted/deficient spectrum.
The last couple of days, I have pulled out a couple of rotated toys and sat with him on my lap for fifteen minutes, showing how to work them. He does well with toys that do not have removeable parts. But when I tried to teach him to use the shape sorter, he couldn’t get past the desire to throw them on the floor and spin them. So we discontinued that after awhile and tried again the next day. Today, I think he may have tried to actually put one in the hole, but I’m not sure if it was a fluke.
We will keep working on it, though. For now, I feel like I need some more educational toy options, but our options are so very, very limited, it is a little frustrating. The therapists told me to help him learn how to use a “variety of toys.” As I looked around, I realized that over half of our toys are in hiding because they spin, and the other half are stacking/building items. What else do you play with at 15 months old?