Incorporate this educational philosophy from day one with our Montessori-friendly toys.
If you’ve heard or read about Montessori lately, you’re not alone. From your Instagram feed to your favorite parenting site, the Montessori philosophy—a century-old approach to education—seems to only be growing in popularity.
The role of the adult in Montessori is to prepare a child’s environment, introduce the materials, and then allow the child to learn for themselves through their senses, hands-on play, and exploration.
A popular early-education approach, Montessori was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1907. She was an Italian physician who studied children, including those living in poverty and with a variety of abilities. She made observations about their universal behaviors and proposed a novel approach to teaching in which the child’s needs determine the activities, rather than an agenda created by the teacher.
Now more than 20,000 schools around the world rely on this practice.
There’s no official list of “approved” Montessori toys; rather, a toy is considered Montessori-friendly if it supports the same educational philosophies as the Montessori approach. Here’s what to look for when choosing a Montessori-friendly toy for your baby:
Natural materials. The Montessori philosophy centers around surrounding a child with natural materials that they can learn about and explore. Does this mean absolutely no plastic allowed? Not quite. But for the most part, traditionally Montessori-friendly toys are made from natural materials like wood, metal, cotton, wool or even rock.
Simple and free of distractions. Translation: no batteries required. Think of toys that will encourage your little one to engage in open-ended, imaginative play.
Focuses on a single skill. Toys that focus on a single skill or concept build the foundation for more advanced learning later on. A single-shape puzzle, for example, a rattle with a bell on it or a pounding bench are all single-skill toys that also teach more sophisticated concepts as your child grows and develops.
Realistic and purpose-driven. Maria Montessori favored toys and books that were rooted in reality, not pretend. This means if you’re choosing between a figurine that’s a cartoon-like image of, say, a cow, versus a realistic one, it’s always best to go with the one that’s based in the real world. She also observed that children love to mimic the world around them, so anything that can help your little one feel like a true part of the “grown-up” world is encouraged.
Less is more.There’s one other thing to remember when choosing Montessori-friendly toys for your baby: less is more. Instead of stocking your little one’s playroom with tons of toys, choose only a few. Focus on toys that will go the distance and that are appropriate for whatever developmental stage your little one is in at the moment. Fewer toys will enable your baby to focus more on the task at hand—and there’ll be less for you to clean up at the end of a long day.
Overwhelmed trying to figure out which toys to buy for your little one?
If you're on the hunt for simple, beautiful toys that will encourage imaginative, open-ended play and grow with your child, then Montessori-style toys may be a perfect fit for your family.
Check out our toys: