Montessori toys. What makes a toy a Montessori toy?
If we adults are overstimulated by the vast array of toys available, can you imagine what that experience will be like for your child? Surrounded by toys that are too colorful, make noise, and contain too many parts, they can feel overwhelmed. So what guidelines can you use when choosing toys for your child?
The Montessori philosophy offers incredible wisdom in this arena and has resulted in thousands of hours of observation to study what children respond to in their environment and what they need or want. The Montessori philosophy can also provide extra convenience when buying toys.
5 characteristics of Montessori toys
- Montessori toys are simple
The best toys to give your toddlers are simply made toys. Your child is trying to make sense of the wild, wonderful world they have so recently encountered. They learn best when you give them organized information. For example, a simple puzzle with a triangle, a circle and a square in three different colors gives a toddler important information about shapes. These are three important geometric structures that they can distinguish between. They learn about the relationships between them as they take the pieces out and play with them. They understand that these shapes are connected without being distracted by some decorative elements or random shapes. If too much information is presented to a child through one toy, children cannot really learn what is needed through play.
- Montessori toys are based on reality
Before the age of six, your child's brain is relatively incapable of distinguishing between fantasy and reality. In order for them to develop a real imagination, but also a good relationship with the real world, they must first learn what the real world looks like. Read them books about real things like tigers in the rainforest, not some tiger driving a toy bus. Give them toys that have real-life counterparts that they can learn from. Leave behind all the toys with buttons and switches that make distracting and random noises. Beware of toys that imitate real life. A ball placed in the hole will roll down the ramp and stop at the end for your toddler to pick up again and roll some more. A real and visible toy bell that rings when your child ticks it.
- Montessori toys are made from natural materials
Whenever possible, choose toys made from natural materials. A rattle made of wood or metal gives your child much more sense of their world than plastic items. The metal is initially cool to the touch and over time it warms up in their hands. Wood again has a variety of textures. Both metal and wood have an interesting "feel" for the baby. Plastic, on the other hand, is always the same temperature and either has no feel or feels foreign in the hand. Likewise, metal and wood add weight to toys when your toddler is working with puzzles, balls, and similar toys. They vary in feel and weight depending on size, while plastic needs plenty of material to feel weighty.
- Montessori materials are functional and constructive
All the toys we give our children should require their participation and action when playing. The best toys for the development of our toddlers allow them to explore the world around them and involve their own will, decisions and thoughts. They should not be passive spectators to some adult's ideas about entertainment. They need to be able to use their creativity, build and communicate while playing, learning about the world around them and its possibilities.
- Montessori games limit children's choices
Give children limited choice in your toy selection. Too much choice is a source of dissatisfaction - it's harder for kids to decide what they want to play with, and it's harder for them to respect the toy they choose. Instead of focusing on the toy and fully enjoying its purpose and value, they move from one toy to another, confusing themselves and gradually becoming more and more restless. The ideal number of toys only increases as the child grows older, but also depends on his character. Changing their collections from time to time gives them time to fully explore and use all the toys they have.
With so many options available in today's world, it is increasingly difficult to choose beautiful toys that suit the needs of children and develop them according to their level.
Using these guidelines can help you make better choices and make a good decision when buying educational toys for your children.