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Aug 17, 2020
There are some words that are known for us, but we do not really understand their meaning. If you have children it is so important to know about quality and other things about toys you buy. In this blog we want to tell you something interesting about Montessori toys.
A Montessori toy is a toy that supports the same educational philosophy created by Dr. Maria Montessori. In essence, they encourage children to be independent, resourceful, and pragmatic explorers in the world around them. Look for these characteristics when searching for suitable Montessori ‘toys’.
“The principal quality of my material is to attract the attention of the child and to provoke a permanent reaction within the child.” – Dr. Montessori
Montessori materials made from a variety of mediums will introduce the child to a great number of interesting concepts and are generally more attractive to a child. They get to experience different textures, weights and smells, as well as connect with nature. Materials made from wood, glass, clay, metal, rock or textile are best. Most Montessori materials are made from wood. While Dr. Montessori never explicitly said wood was the must-have medium of choice, the materials designed by her were made of wood.
While we often think that loud = more interested children = more free time for parents (that’s us), the opposite is actually true. Battery-operated, shiny, and over-the-top flashy toys pull a child away from their important ‘work’ and make it harder to focus on the task at hand.
True Montessori materials are designed to teach a child one focused skill or concept, however, they also contain multiple levels of challenge. The knobbed cylinders, used as a sensorial material, for example, are initially used to help children visually discriminate between dimensions. This helps build the foundation for essential mathematical and language work later on. We’ll discuss this in more depth below.
“[It] may be said that in order to develop the imagination it is necessary for everyone, first of all, to put himself in contact with reality.” -Dr. Maria Montessori
Dr. Montessori was an advocate for using materials that resemble the ‘real world’ around us. She believed such was not only more engaging for children, but also allowed them the freedom to develop their own imagination. If selecting a stuffed animal for your child, you might pick an animal that actually exists, such as an elephant, rather than some made up creature. To young children, the border between reality and fiction is blurred.
Dr. Montessori observed that, perhaps above anything, children loved to participate in ‘practical life’ elements of a family’s daily routine. Sweeping floors, washing dishes, folding laundry. These are all activities children love to be a part of. Sounds like a dream, right? I have observed this in my own home as well as many others where similar principles are encouraged. You can stimulate this interest by keeping tools that are child-sized within easy reach and encouraging your child to participate in the activity at hand.
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