children,  education

How Montessori Toys Give Kids Creative Confidence

How many parents have colourful rainbows or uncannily accurate family portraits decorating the fridge? The colours might not be totally accurate and body shapes might be a tad triangular, but that doesn’t matter.

What does matter is knowing our little ones created art through imagination and self-determination. They made something that wouldn’t exist if they didn’t exist. Montessori play styles and toys build on kids’ natural curiosity and creativity in many ways.

Photo by RODNAE Productions:

Toys that Kids Engage With

Many modern playthings are passively entertaining, whether through pressing buttons to make sounds, playing games on mobile devices or watching TV. There’s nothing wrong with that – we all need to sit back and just be entertained sometimes. 

But we also need to create, get involved, drive the action, and make things happen ourselves. Engaging with the world around them is a vital part of kids’ development, both physically and emotionally.

Montessori toys invite children to pick them up, manipulate them, actively use them, and think about what they’re doing. Toddlers become more dexterous and as their manual skills grow, they become more physically able and more inventive, with the confidence to experiment.

Kids Learn to Concentrate

Focusing on a task, even a creative task, takes practice. It’s challenging even for adults to concentrate for a sustained period, especially if it’s not going so well or ideas feel blocked. For kids, it’s even harder. The temptation to give up and do something less challenging can be overwhelming.

Montessori educational toys include activities specifically designed to help kids strengthen their concentration muscle. They could be games based on maths or on reading, or simply by focussing on stacking blocks and learning to try again if they topple over. 

All Montessori toys are fun and engaging, and with age-appropriate activities kids learn at their own pace without the frustration of feeling pushed.

Focused Objectives

Montessori toys are simple but by no means simplistic. Most, if not all, have a single purpose that helps kids immediately understand what to do. While this may sound obvious to us, as adults, this instinctive understanding of what’s required helps kids move forward.

An example could be a set of building blocks with different sizes or shapes of block. While it’s clear what you must do, how you do it is an individual choice. The focus of the toy is clear, but there are many ways of stacking the blocks to build different types of towers or buildings. 

So, kids learn to be free and creative, make choices, try things out and discover new combinations. But they’re never confused about what to do, so their attention stays with the building process.

Dexterity and Motion

Motor skills are incredibly important, and the earlier babies and toddlers learn to handle and manipulate objects confidently, the earlier they can forget the manual side of creativity and concentrate on the imaginative side.

Take painting or colouring as an example. Once you learn how to wield a brush or a crayon, you never forget. But to start with, it’s quite hard to make that tool do what you want. Creating the right shape or just staying inside the lines can be tough.

To encourage confident movement and dexterity, choose toys like baby walkers, pull along toys, tool benches, or play kitchens and chalkboards, train sets or dolls houses, tents, and tunnels. There are many other playthings in the Montessori play range that encourage standing, walking, running, climbing, and handling objects.

Playroom Layout and Versatility

Part of being confident creatively is being able to make confident choices. For that reason, the people behind Montessori styles of education and play advise setting out the play area so small children can see and reach all the activities on offer. It’s empowering for kids when they don’t need help to reach an appealing toy.

Have low level shelves and a limited selection of activities so children aren’t spoiled for choice. Avoid closed boxes and tubs where possible and keep plenty of clear floor space so there’s room to set toys out and move around. A play mat can help, for both comfort and practicalities. 

Keep the play area versatile and interesting by rotating the available activities. This way, when you see which toys are being ignored you can swap them out for something in line with your child’s current interests. Bring the ignored item back after a while to see if their preferences have changed.

To encourage quiet creative play, child-sized desks and chairs are also a boon, giving children somewhere special and exclusive to work or play.

Montessori toys and play methods have a long history of inspiring kids’ creative confidence and innovation. In fact, some of today’s greatest innovators had a Montessori background so you know you’re in good company.

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