Toys are an integral part of a child's life and every toy that we give our child is an opportunity for them to learn something new. Children observe and learn through playing with their toys and the activities they do and we need to provide them with an environment and resources that would aid their physical and mental growth.
While there are a large variety of toys available in the market, they may or may not be inclined to skill development. Providing your child with toys that are developmentally appropriate for them is very important. Getting Flashy electric cars for babies and gifting a toddler with a science experiment kit would serve the purpose for neither of them.
Wouldn't it be great if our kids develop different types of skills while having fun at every stage?
Well, this is the main approach of the Montessori method. Maria Montessori- The founder of the Montessori educational model, understood children's growth timelines. She knew that exposing a baby to letters and numbers before they were ready to understand what these symbols represented, was just noise for them.
She observed that the youngest children learn best when they explore isolated concrete concepts on their own. Rather than presenting abstract lessons to a child, Montessori toys are designed to invite children to build their own concept of the world. Montessori toys give children the independence of free play and encourage them to develop skills, thus setting a class apart from the regular toys.
In this post, we'll take a look at what Montessori toys are and what differentiates them from other toys.
Whenever we think about toys, the thoughts that come to our mind are- kids, games, playing, or fun. But if you have come across the term Montessori, you can relate toys with education and learning.
The idea of Montessori follows the way of teaching concepts and developing skills through free play. They use materials that let the child understand whether an activity is completed or not, and allow the child to focus more with minimal adult intervention.
Your child learns a lot while playing with Montessori toys and open-ended play boosts a kid's mental and physical health. It increases their reasoning skills and teaches them social interactions. Montessori toys are toys that provoke the children to do experiments and that's how to start a phase of learning for children.
So how do we identify a Montessori toy in a world where every other toy is marketed to be a learning toy?
Montessori toys are designed to be simple- toys without batteries and flashy sounds and lights. When a kid is playing with a battery-operated car or musical toy, the child is just a passive observer which does not aid in fine motor, gross motor, and cognitive skills to develop. Simple toys don't overwhelm the child's mind and allow them to fully understand the purpose of the toy.
Using toys made of natural materials enhances the experience of playing for children, something that plastic can never provide. They learn from the shape, texture, and colors of the material and thereby develop their fine motor, gross motor, and sensory skills. When we think of Montessori toys, we tend to think about wooden toys but every wooden toy may not be based on Montessori. Wooden toys are safe and durable and kids of any age can use them. Also, they are environment-friendly and support sustainable development.
Montessori toys are made of high quality and each toy is made to teach the baby a focused skill. Montessori toys are designed to have ‘‘control of error '''. The child can correct their faults while playing on their own, rather than seeking help from parents or teachers. Montessori found that children preferred to spend most of their day in the open spaces rather than being cooped up in a classroom.
All that a child asks for, and requires in the initial years is Play and Montessori channelizes this interest of children to educate them with practical experiences.
Regular toys can be any type of toy and may not necessarily be designed with a specific educational approach in mind. While regular toys may not offer the same opportunities for learning and skill development as Montessori toys, they can certainly be enjoyable and entertaining for children.
So when to consider regular toys over Montessori toys? Here are a few situations in which regular toys may be more appropriate than Montessori toys:
1. When the child is not interested in the toy: If a child is not interested in a Montessori toy, it may not be an effective learning tool. In this case, a regular toy that the child enjoys playing with may be more beneficial.
2. When you are getting a toy just for the purpose of engaging your child, like for traveling, you could go for a regular toy as it can be economical. Montessori toys can be expensive when compared to regular toys.
3. When the child is not ready for the toy: Montessori toys are often designed for a specific age range and developmental level. If a child is not ready for a particular Montessori toy, they may not be able to fully benefit from it. In this case, a regular toy that is more age-appropriate may be more suitable.
4. When the toy is not being used in a way that supports the Montessori method: The effectiveness of any toy, including Montessori toys, depends on how it is used. If a Montessori toy is not being used in a way that supports the Montessori method, it may not be an effective learning tool.
To sum it up...
Montessori toys are designed to support a child's natural development and help them learn through self-directed play. They often have simple, functional designs and are made from natural materials. Regular toys, on the other hand, are designed more for entertainment value and can be made from a wide variety of materials.
Ultimately, the best toy for a child will depend on the individual child and their interests, needs, and development level. It may be helpful to consider a mix of both regular toys and Montessori toys to provide a variety of learning opportunities for a child.