What Are Montessori Toys?
Developed by Italian physician Maria Montessori, the Montessori method focuses heavily on independence and independent play. With a well-prepared learning environment, children can benefit from their inate instinct to explore and their thirst for knowledge.
The two basic principles of Montessori cover psychological self-construction and psychological development. Maria Montessori believed that children who can choose and act freely within their environment would grow up to act more spontaneously to achieve optimal development.
Montessori perceived certain elements of human psychology as "human tendencies". These are some of the elements:
- Manipulation of the environment
- Work (purposeful activity)
Planes of Development
In addition to human tendencies, Montessori observed four periods, or planes, in human development:
- Acquisition of language (birth to 6 years old)
- Interest in small objects (18 months to 3 years old)
- Order (1 to 3 years old)
- Sensory refinement (birth to around 4 years old)
- Social behaviour (2.5 to 4 years old)
What Makes a Toy Montessori?
As parents, I can almost guarantee your child has experienced the scenario where they are completely overwhelmed with their selection of toys. As adults, we can feel overstimulated or anxious if too much is going on, so imagine how that feels for a child?
Montessori toys are designed from hours or observational studies to detect how children respond and what they need in their environment. So, why should you buy Montessori toys?
Montessori toys tend to be very simple. For example, a wooden puzzle with a circle, square, and triangle. This offers your baby, toddler, or child a structured approach to shapes. As your child plays with Montessori toys, they learn the basics and the relationship between what they are playing with.
Going back to the puzzle scenario, a child can be easily distracted by multiple colours and different shapes. If they are offered a simplified approach, they are more likely to make a connection between the shapes, absorbing the elements of the activity.
You can purchase our stunning, wooden Goki Colour and Shape Assorting Board for just £8.95.
Generally speaking, a child cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy before the age of six. To enable your children to develop real imagination, they need to learn about real things. For example, if you're reading them a book, read a book about cows on the farm rather than a cow driving a car.
Montessori toys have real consequences. If you put a ball into a circle shaped hole, it will fit and roll through to the open space. Your toddler will soon realise that if he or she puts the ball into the hole, they will be able to collect it and start the process again. If there is a bell, your child can ring the bell, rather than pressing random buttons on a board that make irrelevant noises.
The Hape Jungle Press and Slide Ball Run (£19.99) is perfect for children from around 18 months old. They can watch the ball roll around the tree to the lever which they can press to start again.
Giving your child the correct information about their world is far more effective than providing them with unnatural materials like plastic. Wood and metal offer different textures and temperatures compared to plastic which will always feel the same.
Natural materials in Montessori toys also offer different weights so your child will learn much faster when working with puzzles or balls. Not only are natural toys better for the environment, they also allow your child to distinguish between materials that they'll encounter in the 'real world'. Also, we think they look much nicer too!
Our collection of Tickit Percussion Instruments (starting from £1.99) are made from wood and metal, and are a big hit with babies, toddlers, and older children. They make perfect stocking fillers or gifts to expand your child's instrument collection.
Any toys that we provide to our children should serve a purpose or function. By this we mean they should allow your child to participate on every level; development, exploration, decisions, ideas, and will.
Children shouldn't be spectators as they won't learn from watching an adult's idea of what they consider to be entertainment. Montessori toys allow children to build and interact, understanding more about the real world and their capabilities. It's a perfect opportunity to watch and allow your child to grow and develop naturally.
If you're looking for something to inspire small world play, our Guidecraft Little Bricks (£44.49) are a briliant addition to your child's toy box. They allow your child to be creative and unlock their engineering skills, offering multiple options for a tactile and weighted building experience.