Creating as close to a perfect environment as possible for their kids is the goal of most parents. Playrooms should be exciting, adventurous, fun, and stimulating so kids can’t wait to get in there.
Why Montessori Play Works
Montessori puts a child’s formative needs at the heart of every carefully designed play item. Whilst they may appear unsophisticated and simple when compared to many modern, tech-driven toys, it’s precisely that simplicity that encourages engagement and exploration.
These toys aren’t designed as passive entertainment for kids. They’re meant to be handled and manipulated, used, and actively played with. Active play is the keyword since the toys don’t do anything by themselves.
You need to add children. Then something special starts to happen.
- There’s a challenge to overcome, such as fitting tracks together to make a railway, or finding out which shape fits best in which hole.
- There’s a sense of exploration because there is always more than one way to accomplish what each toy asks the child to do.
- Kids choose their preferred activity, directed by their natural curiosity and interests.
Through interacting with and using Montessori style toys, kids grow confident in their abilities. They learn to experiment, feel success from their own efforts and importantly, they learn to try again if something doesn’t work.
But crucially, Montessori toys teach through fun and laughter. Maria Montessori, who first recognised the importance of giving children stimulating and challenging playthings, held that given the right environment and tools, kids would educate themselves. Through the following generations, she’s been proved right.
Key Concepts for a Montessori Playroom
Montessori style play intends that children act independently as far as possible. They make their own choices and decisions about what to do next and are given the means to follow through without asking for help.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you don’t play with your kids, show them toys, or invite them to join you in games. But it does mean that when they want to, they can act instinctively and follow their natural curiosity.
You can encourage this level of independence by making sure all the toys in the range are accessible. Have them out of boxes and arranged on low shelving that toddlers and young children can reach by themselves. It’s empowering for them to achieve things on their own, it builds their self-confidence and encourages decision making.
Two other important factors are limited choices and space to move around. Instead of filling the playroom with hundreds of different toys, restrict the selection to no more than a dozen different items. Occasionally change the assortment, adding new items and taking away old ones. It helps keep the playroom fresh and exciting, especially when you swap out toys to follow your child’s current interests or preferred activities.
At the same time, include space to play on the floor. Use playmats and have a few items of child-sized furniture such as a table and a couple of chairs so there’s somewhere to do puzzles, writing, or crafts.
Types of Activities and Toys to Include
Action Toys – pull along, ride on or rocking toys encourage movement to develop gross motor skills and build muscles and bones. Wobble and balance boards, climbing frames or tunnels and tents are also fun action toys.
Learning Activities – Montessori includes a range of card and memory games, books, posters, and items to help with learning numbers and writing.
Sensory Experiences – Natural materials like wood, wicker or fabric all offer rich sensory experiences to little fingers and mouths. Safe wood rattles for babies, cloth dolls or teddies for older children, and wooden toys for all ages make sure all the age groups enjoy a variety of natural sensory experiences.
Creative and Imaginative Toys – from dressing up to role playing games with kitchens, work benches, shops and musical instruments, young imaginations get plenty of healthy stimulation. You can also nurture their need to create with chalkboards, colouring mats, and stickers.
Having a range of play experiences offering alternative approaches reinforces their knowledge by providing for different learning styles. Children become more engaged with their learning, confident in their abilities and motivated to discover more.
Adopting a few Montessori ideas into your playroom will make it just about as perfect as it can be. Not just for the lovely toys you’ll fill it with, but because each item (along with the room or area itself) is specially designed to teach in a rich, fun, and varied way.