Modern society seems to always encourage us to seek out what’s bigger and better, noisier, and brighter. But sometimes these things don’t deliver what they promise. The flash and fun is short lived, and the most expensive ‘must haves’ are soon relegated to the back of the toy cupboard.
Montessori toys are different:
Toys That Engage
Lots of today’s toys are designed purely to entertain. Nothing wrong with that, but entertainment without engagement soon gets boring. That expensive gadget you hoped would provide hours of amusement is quickly discarded and kids go off in search of the next quick fix.
Montessori toys, while appearing simple, are designed to challenge as well as entertain. They may not do anything beyond looking appealing, until the child picks them up and interacts.
Then there’s a puzzle to solve, a mystery to unravel, or a story to reveal. The child’s imagination and creativity bring the toy to life, and through this engagement kids get a sense of achievement and personal satisfaction.
Many toys in the Montessori range have just one purpose, but they offer multiple ways to succeed. This versatility holds the child’s attention as they learn to solve problems, try different methods, and experiment to see what works.
Toys to Develop Social Skills
Getting on with and understanding others is a challenging skill for young children. The earlier kids are encouraged to empathise and engage with others the more likely they are to carry this vital skill into adulthood.
Montessori offers a range of educational toys and games to help them learn practical social and emotional skills as well as functional skills such as reading and maths.
There are playthings that encourage role play, such as kids’ work benches and play kitchens, or doll houses. These encourage communication along with sharing and caring for others. They can also help young children identify and control their own emotions when they get caught up in stories of their own making. They create a safe but stimulating environment where kids can explore and learn, either with friends or alone. Positive playing like this builds their self-esteem and confidence.
Toys That Encourage Critical Thinking
Critical thinking depends on confident thinking along with a willingness to experiment and ask questions. Some playthings in the Montessori range are specifically designed to engage this side of a child’s development.
But whether it’s a card game, a memory game or a game of reading or maths, it’s all done in a fun, non-threatening way. Kids can make progress and learn at their own pace, enjoying themselves without being aware that they’re learning.
That’s because, often, Montessori play styles don’t dictate how children should play. The child chooses because they’re curious about something and want to find out what happens if… or what happens next.
Through experimentation and problem solving, kids learn to look at puzzles from different angles and find alternative ways of doing things if one way fails. Investigation and discovery are a big part of Montessori play, helping kids concentrate and experience success through their own investigations.
Toys That Develop Motor Skills
It’s not all ‘sit down and be quiet’ in the Montessori playroom. Running, jumping, climbing, and balancing are just as important in a child’s development.
So, in the Montessori range you’ll find climbing frames, play tents and tunnels, balance boards and ride-on or pull-along toys.
They’re all designed with the same attention to detail and natural materials, offering kids the chance to move around and burn some energy. At the same time, they’ll hone a growing toddler’s gross motor skills so he or she feels confident in their physical abilities.
Creating a Montessori Play Area
Where children play can be almost as important as how they play, so they feel confident, comfortable, and secure. When you’re creating the play area, bear in mind a couple of the key concepts in Montessori play:
- Limiting the number of toys or activities: This isn’t to restrict choice or deny access, it’s to prevent overwhelm. Some Montessori experts recommend keeping the game selection to around ten or twelve items that offer different skills or challenges. Keep an eye on which ones your child likes and uses, and if any are being ignored, swap those out for something different. Changing what’s on offer every now and then helps keep play new and exciting.
- Having all the toys on show: use low level open shelves that toddlers can reach on their own, and have each toy out of its box and ready for action. It encourages children to choose, make their own decisions, and act on them without help.
Once you’ve figured out those logistics, add in some play aids such as play mats and child-sized furnishings in the shape of a table and chairs. It all comes together so the play area feels unique and special, ready to go and immersive to developing imaginations.
Montessori play and the style of toys offered aren’t new by any means. But the almost magical way they encourage learning and development on all levels resonates with parents and kids today just as it always did.