Picture this: a classroom, buzzing with youthful energy, filled with vibrant colors, intriguing materials, and the hum of engaged minds. This is no ordinary classroom – it’s a Montessori classroom. A Montessori-friendly classroom is a pedagogical approach that has captured the minds of educators, parents, and children for decades.
Parents everywhere strive to create an environment that supports the physical and cognitive development of their little ones, and Montessori toys and educational products make that easier than ever. Soon enough, your kids will be confident learners ready to take on the world.
What is the Montessori Method?
The Montessori Method, developed by Italian physician Dr. Maria Montessori, is a set of principles for learning that promotes independence, individuality in learning, and curiosity. Though it focuses primarily on education, the Montessori Method is not merely an educational approach but a way of life that embraces the unique nature of each and every child. The Montessori Method is appropriate for all ages but is specifically effective for ages two to ten years old.
Parents across the globe strive to cultivate an environment that fosters imagination and social and cognitive development and instills a love for learning. The Montessori Method is a guide to achieving just that. This philosophy focuses on child-led learning, meaning little ones get to discover and explore more independently using Montessori toys. They are encouraged to problem-solve, collaborate with peers to figure out solutions, and become lifelong learners.
How is the Montessori Method Beneficial?
The Montessori Method is renowned for its numerous benefits that span across various aspects of childhood development, creating a holistic, positive environment. Though there are countless advantages to using the Montessori Method, these are the three that stick out the most:
- Encourages curiosity and discovery
- Helps develop self-regulation skills
- Increases social skills and cooperation
Montessori Fosters Curiosity and Discovery
Because of the nature of Montessori toys and learning materials, classrooms with this philosophy encourage discovery, problem-solving skills, and imagination, all of which support cognitive development. The best Montessori toys are carefully crafted to spark children’s interest and motivate them to investigate. Montessori toys are unique in that they are appropriate for a large age range. Instead of being a baby toy specifically, some might be appropriate for kids from ages two to ten!
Another principle of Montessori is that children are often allowed to create their own days and schedules, which also supports curiosity and problem-solving skills. For example, if another child has the Montessori toy they want, they have to problem-solve and understand the steps to obtaining that toy without conflict or trouble.
Montessori Children Learn to Self-Regulate
Self-regulation is an important developmental milestone for children. Montessori classrooms are curated to offer lots of options where children have the freedom to choose what to work on. Young children ages two to five benefit from this principle the most as they learn to regulate their emotions. This freedom of choice allows them to manage time, make decisions, and follow their own interests.
Children thrive with predictable routines and consistency. This principle of Montessori helps them develop a sense of order and come to appreciate a structured environment. A predictable routine helps them develop a sense of security and safety, which every child craves. This helps them start to understand their big emotions and self-regulate while they problem-solve.
Cooperation and Social Skills Soar
Another fantastic thing about Montessori is the way children learn how to cooperate and work with their peers. Since there’s minimal adult interruption, kids must work things out together. Of course, there are still adults available should anything go wrong, but for the most part, little squabbles get resolved much quicker, and kids collaborate to achieve bigger goals.
Montessori is also big on teaching grace and courtesy. These social skills contribute to self-regulation but also teach children how to navigate social interactions and practice empathy. The kindness, courtesy, and other social skills kids learn within the Montessori Method will serve them well beyond the classroom.
What Can I Do to Start Montessori in My Home?
Incorporating the Montessori Method into your home is as simple as doing everyday tasks, just with your kids! You can start Montessori whenever you’d like, but the optimal age range to begin is from around two to six years old.
These three things are our favorite easy ways to start Montessori within your home:
- Allow age-appropriate independence
- Include your child in your everyday tasks
- Purchase Montessori toys
Independence at All Ages
Encouraging independence at all ages lays a solid foundation for implementing the Montessori approach in your household. From the moment children begin to explore the world around them, nurturing their independence empowers them to become active participants in their own learning, which is the very cornerstone of Montessori!
Provide age-appropriate tasks to help your children form a routine. For example, allow your three- or four-year-old child to choose their clothes in the morning. Try not to pay attention to patterns and colors that might clash; that’s all part of the learning process! Also, have your four- to six-year-olds take charge of self-care tasks, like brushing their teeth and bathing. They might need some supervision to make sure things are done well, but it helps them take ownership of their own lives.
Embracing independence means trusting children to make decisions, problem-solve, and learn from their mistakes. When they have open-ended play and activities, options for their day-to-day tasks, and any other budding autonomy, children feel empowered, capable, and excited to explore their world.
Learning by Helping
Inviting your little ones to actively participate in household tasks can be a valuable opportunity for incorporating Montessori education into your everyday. This helps children gain a sense of responsibility, and it also allows them to learn life skills.
Include your child in your household chores and explain what steps you’re taking to accomplish tasks. Something as simple as narrating the steps to the laundry to your baby as young as three to four months old is a great foundation for setting them up to be great Montessori learners.
Additionally, make sure your house is set up in a way that encourages your children to help. Perhaps you find a smaller dresser so five- to seven-year-olds can independently put their clothes away, or maybe you grab some light switch extenders so they can make sure they learn to save energy when they leave a room. Regardless of how you choose to do it, allowing your children to help is huge in Montessori learning.
Finding the Best Montessori Toys
Cultivating a good environment for Montessori learning is the first big step. We encourage parents to stock up on the best Montessori toys so their playtime is fun and exciting while also being educational. The best Montessori toys are based on real-life activities, so your little one can discover and play while also learning about tons of different subjects.
What Are the Qualities of a Montessori Toy?
The best Montessori toys are realistic, high-quality toys that encourage children to discover and experiment. The engaging, purposeful design of Montessori toys has many benefits and can help develop imagination, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and more.
Three important qualities when searching for the best Montessori toys are:
- They are made of natural materials
- Simple with no batteries needed
- Allow open-ended play
Natural Materials for Montessori Toys
First, the best Montessori toys are made from natural and sustainable materials. The most popular material for Montessori toys is wood, but oftentimes metal, fabric, and other natural fibers are included. These materials provide a sensory-rich experience, connecting little ones to the outside work and garnering an appreciation for the earth. They are also great for the environment and don’t waste resources in their production, which is a true principle of Montessori.
No-Battery, Simplistic Play
The other main guiding principle for the best Montessori toys is that they are simple and free from flashing lights, loud sounds, and even sometimes bright colors that can be overstimulating. This is especially true for baby toys, like those intended for ages six months to a year. Rather than providing one entertaining function with a button that produces sounds and lights, the best Montessori toys let children take play time into their own hands, exploring and discovering without the distraction of lights and sounds.
Open-Ended Play is Imperative
The core principle of Montessori is independence and self-led learning, which is why it’s important that the best Montessori toys are crafted to be kid friendly and encourage open-ended play, which benefits children as young as six months old. This type of play is great for developing minds because they can gain a sense of accomplishment and self-sufficiency and hone in on their creativity.
Best Montessori Toys
There are tons of products out there that can be considered Montessori toys, but five of our favorite categories for the best Montessori toys are:
- Kitchen sets
- Stacking toys
- Wooden animals
Building blocks are some of the best Montessori toys available because they are versatile and spark open-ended play. Blocks are fabulous for fine motor skills development because playing with them requires precise hand-eye coordination and dexterity. Blocks also provide a rich sensory experience for children because they are textured and often have carved designs. Wooden blocks are great for all ages, even beginning as early as six months old for sensory play.
Playing with blocks is also inherently mathematical. Even if they don’t yet realize it, little ones are exploring concepts like shapes, size, symmetry, and spatial relationships when they play with blocks. Sorting by shape, color, or size is a great way to stay engaged with your little one as they explore their block sets. One of our favorite block sets for children of all ages is this Peace & Love Wooden Block Set.
Playing Pretend with Kitchen Sets
As previously mentioned, an effective way to implement Montessori in your home is by including kiddos in your everyday tasks. Some of the best Montessori toys available are kitchen sets and pretend food because they help children connect play to real life. Children around two to three years old really start loving this type of play.
They can play alongside you in the kitchen, pretend grocery shop, or even just practice identifying and sorting products. Two of the best Montessori toys for kitchen play are a Mini Fruit Set and a Vegetable Salad Set.
Another one of our favorite Montessori toy categories is wooden puzzles and sorters, especially for young toddlers around ages two or three. These are some of the best Montessori toys available because they foster fine motor skill development, problem-solving skills, and general cognitive development. Puzzles can be used to identify and understand patterns and encourage little ones to make connections, anticipate outcomes, and practice critical thinking.
Some of our favorite wooden puzzles are simple, neutral-colored, and sustainable, like this Sheep Puzzle or this Elephant Puzzle/Sorter. Both sets allow children to manipulate the pieces and understand size relativity. They can also be used to practice counting, animal sounds, and more. Remember – the best Montessori toys are multifunctional!
Stacking Toys are the Best Montessori Toys
Stacking toys and games takes the idea of wooden puzzles to the next level, making them perfect for older toddlers and children around three to seven years old. These Montessori toys allow children to take learning into their own hands and allow them to create whatever they want.
Stackers require a little more coordination than a wooden puzzle and are open-ended, so little ones can decide how they want to organize and stack their toys. Whether they’re playing independently with a Stacking Rocket or learning how to play a Balancing Cactus Game with friends, stacking toys and games are some of the best Montessori toys around.
Wooden Animals Offer Life Lessons
A huge principle of Montessori is connecting play and learning to real-life activities, so some of the best Montessori toys for children are wooden animals. Montessori encourages children to take responsibility and action in their homes and with chores, and wooden animals can help facilitate that. Because of the wide range of benefits, we love wooden animals for ages two to ten.
Children can learn all about farm life and the responsibilities involved with this farm set from Bajo. It offers a wonderful way to connect a lesson to real life, like learning about food production and growing fruits and vegetables. If your little one is obsessed with all things jungle and wants to learn more about nature, try this Jungle & Savana Wooden Figure Set.
Starting the Montessori Method in Your Home
The Montessori Method is one of the highest-praised, most-well-rounded educational philosophies out there, and it’s not hard to implement in your home! Take small steps, and don’t feel like you have to make the leap all at once. Little changes are impactful!
Parents can play a pivotal role in supporting Montessori learning by obtaining the best Montessori toys available from Hazel & Fawn. With all the positive attributes of a Montessori education, you will do your part to raise intelligent, compassionate, confident kids from six-month-olds to teenagers!