If you are a parent, you must have heard of the term "Montessori", especially if you are looking for preschools.
Are you curious to know how it helps in early learning and if you can apply some of the concepts in your home to improve your child's development?
Then let's find out.
What is the Montessori method?
Montessori Method was developed by an Italian physician Maria Montessori in the early 1900s and the story of how she came up with this method is quite interesting.
While working in a hospital, she discovered that children learned better when they were active and engaged in the world around them.
So she began experimenting with ways to make learning easier and more interesting. She came up with the idea of separating the classroom into different areas, each one serving a specific purpose. For example, there might be an area where small objects could be used to build things, another place where you could play games, and still others where you could read books.
Montessori found that children preferred to spend most of their day in the open spaces rather than being cooped up in a classroom. They were excited about exploring and playing. They felt safe because they knew that they could always go back to the teachers whenever they needed help. Montessori continued to develop her ideas, and today, the Montessori method is widely used in preschools and Elementary schools
Montessori schools are designed around principles of child development and encourage children to explore the world around them. They provide a safe and stimulating environment where children are encouraged to develop self-confidence and independence. Montessori resources in private schools allow kids to have different activity times with minimal adult involvement.
How it helps in learning through play
The Montessori Method is based on the idea that children learn best when they are engaged in activities that are fun for them. Children who use the Montessori Method tend to be happier, healthier, and better behaved. They also tend to perform better academically and have better social interactions.
Playing games is one of the best ways to learn something new. Learning through play is called "active learning" and has been proven to be effective for both children and adults. Games help us understand how things work together, and they also teach us about ourselves.
How to identify a Montessori Toy?
Nowadays, the word "Montessori Toy" could be used as a marketing gimmick. Every such claim may not be true. We have mentioned some ways to verify these claims to save your money and time and protect against unsafe toys.
Montessori toys are made for children ages 2 to 6 years old. The toys are designed to be used by children who are learning how to read, write or count.
They are usually colorful, educational, and easy to use. Most Montessori toys are made from wood, plastic, metal, or other materials that are safe for young children. Most Montessori toys do not require batteries. They come in different shapes and sizes, such as blocks, puzzles, and dolls.
Look for the following clues to identify a Montessori Toy.
1. Isolation of one concept
The Montessori system promotes that children acquire skills one at a time. A toy with too many elements might confuse the child and bouncing from one activity to the next doesn’t help your child concentrate.
2. Active Play
Toys that require kids to play actively using their hands, legs, and other sensory skills can be termed, Montessori. A toy with lights and noises that moves on its own, makes the child a passive observer which does not aid their fine motor, gross motor, and cognitive skills to develop. Active play with other kids also helps develop emotional skills.
3. Natural materials
Using real materials helps the child understand the texture, smell, taste, and consistency – something that plastic can never provide. Giving them a real scissor to cut paper(while monitoring), instead of a plastic scissor, gives rich sensory learning for the child. Choose high-quality toys using real wood and no sharp edges.
4. Simple toys
The Montessori idea supports simple toys. Like, an object permanence box just consists of a wooden box with slots on top into which the child can drop different kinds of shapes, while it might look easy for us, it actually supports the developmental stage that the child is going through.
5. Open-ended Play
A toy that can be played with in many different ways, enhances the creativity and imagination of the child. Open-ended toys are easy to play with and invite the child to explore them continuously.There are many benefits of Montessori Open ended toys as they engage a child in self exploration and at the same time help them grow mentally and physically.
Toys that are designed in a way to give feedback to the child whether the activity is done or not, help the child to focus on the right path with minimal adult intervention.
5 classic 'must have' Montessori Toys
There is a wide range of Montessori Open ended toys used in elementary schools which you can explore for homeschooling. However, in early years a child spends most of their time at home. Here are a few classic Montessori toys that you must have in your home to supplement the learning process.
1. Rattles & teethers
Baby rattle toys are one of the first open ended toys especially meant for infants. The playful baby rattles are not just for entertainment but they are crucial for a baby's healthy development.
Babies love exploring the toys we hand over to them and when they find a rattle, they'll hold it tightly, observe it, shake the toy and thus develop fine motor skills. The grasp reflex of their fingers and palms encourages muscle development and pre-writing skills in newborn babies.
They hear the sound carefully, they also feel the texture of the toy which improves their sensory skills. Babies tend to chew on their toys while teething, so it becomes important to choose safe rattle and teether toys for your child.
2. Play silks
As your child enters the toddler phase, eighteen months commemorates the age of independence and discovery. That is why baby play activities, such as play silks that promote motor control and coordination, help in improving real-life skills, essential for the early years. Play skills can be used for outdoor activities too as they promote pretend play which enables practical skills in the later stage of life. Here are a few ideas to engage your child with play silks and make the most out of this amazing sensory toy.
3. Shape Sorter
Sorting objects by size, shape, or color, is a developmental milestone for cognition (learning, thinking, problem-solving). By age 2, children begin to understand the concept of sorting. By age 4, a child will be able to identify some colors and sort. Research has also suggested that learning to sort is one of the many skills that can contribute to stronger math skills later on. The shape sorter is one of the perfect toddler toys that promote activities for toddlers with parents and caregivers.
4. Building Blocks
As children progress through the various stages of block play, they develop their fine motor and gross motor skills. Some are simple planks made of wood, while others are fancy, like interlocking bricks of plastic. But whatever form they take, blocks can function as powerful learning tools. Studies suggest that toy blocks can help children, especially school-aged children develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
5. Life skill toys
Children benefit the most from real-life experiences over 'pretend' toys. You can enable these daily life experiences with child-sized Montessori materials such as rolling pins, wooden knives, or even a Cleaning Kit for Kids which helps them learn the everyday skill of household activities. This not only encourages building social skills but also the independence and hands-on learning of everyday activity in a job well done.
While some types of toys might resemble the Montessori toy idea, they aren't as they’re not all open-ended and imitate. While getting a toy for your kid, ask yourselves, will the child be able to play with the toy in many different ways? Does the toy support improving the skills of your child? Can your kid play independently with minimal intervention from caregivers or will it require continuous supervision? If the answer is Yes, it's probably a great Montessori toy.
Playthings powered by your child’s own energy encourage them to stay with a problem, investigate further, and build new skills. This makes play a safe space for the child. For any type of toy that fosters a child's development, there are three things to remember—education, engagement, and entertainment. And Montessori fits the bill.