Surrounded by toys with too many colours, too many noises, and too many parts, infants and toddlers feel overwhelmed. So what guidelines can you use when selecting toys for your child?
Montessori philosophies offer incredible wisdom and the strength of thousands of hours of observation to study what children respond to and need in their environment.
Over the past 2 years, I have spent time trying to study the Montessori toys and what one should look for and avoid when shopping for toys for their little ones. So here is a simple checklist that may help you -
- Reality based toys
Fun Fact - Before the age of six, your child’s brain is relatively incapable of distinguishing fantasy from reality.
In order for them to develop real imagination and a secure relationship to their world, they need to first learn about what the world really is like. Read them books about real things: Tigers in the rainforest, not tigers driving buses.
Give them toys with real consequences. Skip the boxes with knobs and buttons that produce unrelated and random noises - unlike a noisy plastic toy give them toys that have true consequences. A ball dropped into a hole will roll down a ramp and emerge for your toddler to handle again. An actual and visible bell will ring when your baby bats at it.
-Toys made of natural materials
Choose toys made from natural materials whenever possible. A rattle made from wood or metal will give your baby much more information about their world than a plastic one.
This also stimulates their sensory development - A metal rattle is cool to touch at first and then warms in their hand. Wood provides a variety of textures. And both metal and wood have an interesting “taste” for the baby also metal and wood provide an interesting weight when your toddler is working with puzzles, balls, and similar toys. They will vary in feel and weight based on size which is such fun for kids. I have observed Shloka play with these toys and have learnt to truly appreciate the toys we have curated on the website.
Naturally made, Montessori, materials are functional and constructive
Participation and cause and effect are so important for the child. The best toys for our little ones’ development allow them to explore and involve their own will, decisions, and ideas.
Montessori toys are open ended and can be played with in unlimited ways but Montessori as a philosophy offers limited toy options. Which is not a bad thing at all !
Give your child limited choices when setting out their toys. Having too many choices is overwhelming and dissatisfying.
It is harder for them to decide what they want to play with, and it is harder for them to stick with the toy once they’ve chosen it. That is why parents who follow Montessori rotate the toys in their kids playrooms.
Rather than concentrating on the toy and fully enjoying its purpose and value, they will flit from one toy to the next, making a mess and feeling progressively undone.
The ideal number of toys will increase as the child ages, but will depend on their individual personalities. Rotating from their collection will allow time to explore and use all the toys they have.
- Montessori toys are simple
Give your little ones simple toys, your child is trying to make sense of this wonderful world and learn best when you give them organised information.
You may offer a simple puzzle with a triangle, a circle, and a square in three different solid colours, this toy gives your toddler organised information about shapes. These are three essential geometric structures to distinguish between. They learn about the relationship between the three as they take the pieces out and put them away. And they absorb that these shapes are related to each other without the distraction of decorative faces or random shapes.
Information overload in one toy means he or she cannot extract essential elements of the activity.
Using these guidelines can help you navigate the options, and help support you in educated decision making for your child’s toy selection!