How Montessori Toys Aid the Development of Your 2-Year-Olds
Toddlers love to run around and play. They really, really love it. The average toddler spends at least 3 hours a day immersed in physical activities like dancing, skipping, twirling, and jumping around. If you have a kid this age, you know how energetic they are.
However, many fail to realize just how much play is important for children’s growth.
Experts agree that playtime has a huge impact on a child’s physical, mental, and emotional development. That’s why parents should encourage their kids to play on their own to foster health, independence, and essential skills.
But to do this, you need the right tools. This is where Montessori toys become valuable.
What is the Montessori Method Exactly?
The Montessori Method is a way of teaching where kids learn by doing things themselves in prepared environments. It lets children follow their interests and learn at their own pace.
Ever heard of Dr. Maria Montessori? She was a groundbreaking child development expert who believed children learn best by exploring on their own. In the early 20th century, she set up her first school, the “House of Children,” where she helped children learn essential skills through play as early as possible.
Maria was convinced that kids are like mini explorers, especially in their early years, eager to understand everything around them. In her words, parents and teachers shouldn’t just be teaching kids. Instead, they should focus on creating a rich environment where their minds can thrive. The caretaker is there only to oversee the child and make sure they’re safe while playing.
By letting children explore their surroundings freely and learn from them, Dr. Montessori revolutionized the way we think about teaching.
How Do Children Learn Through Play?
Young children use play to imitate the adults in their lives, test boundaries, and learn how to socialize through role-playing with their toys. Play is an important aspect of development, promoting better social skills and improving emotional intelligence in children.
So should you just buy your 2-year-old a couple of toys, leave them be, and wait for them to learn new skills? Certainly not. Research from the University of Cambridge suggests that “guided play” that combines child autonomy and parent guidance is the way to go.
Compared to traditional approaches, guided play:
- Has more of an impact on skills like math
- Helps children understand new concepts and skills more easily
- Supports kids’ cognitive development and encourages curiosity
While there are classrooms specifically designed to support play-based learning, this method best works at home. Play-based learning, coupled with the right materials - Montessori toys - can enhance early childhood education by promoting creativity, independence, and skill development.
How to Recognize Montessori Toys?
Montessori toys are designed in a way to help children work their bodies and brains, helping them develop at a steady pace.
Visually, Montessori toys remind you of toys of old. Wooden blocks, illustration books, and puzzles are often found in Montessori households and classrooms. But these toys aren’t just visually appealing. They’re designed to align with the Montessori educational philosophy.
OK, that sounds overly complicated. What do we actually mean by it? And how can you spot Montessori toys? Here are a couple of elements of Montessori toys:
- Sensory draw: Montessori toys engage kids' senses using natural materials, making complex ideas easy to understand through touch.
- Built to last: Did you know that the average toy lasts for only around 6 months? Not Montessori! These toys are really sturdy and long-lasting. They can even stay in your family for generations.
- Learning tools: Beyond play, Montessori toys help 2-year-olds develop their skills and expand their understanding of the world. The goal of Montessori isn’t to help your child do better in school but to be more “ready for life.”
How Do Montessori Toys Help Your 2-Year-Old Develop?
Playing with Montessori toys can help your child improve their imagination and creativity, increase their focus, build social intelligence, and so much more. Let’s check it out:
Helping Your Child With Creativity
Montessori toys not only help kids learn basic skills but also spark their imagination. These toys encourage children to think differently and feel confident about their ideas. A noted Harvard researcher, Tony Wagner, explained in his book, “Most Likely to Succeed,” how Montessori education can lead to creativity, noting that many modern innovators were educated this way.
Montessori Toys Improve Focus
Montessori toys promote deep, focused play. This helps children improve their concentration and attention, which are key for learning and solving problems. These toys, emphasizing hands-on learning, also support the brain's ability to change and grow, which is especially vital in the early years.
Better Social Intelligence
Montessori toys help kids practice social interactions, like sharing and role-playing. These skills will help them a lot once they start attending school. Building social intelligence is as important as other development milestones, like walking or talking. Montessori toys encourage strong relationships, communication, and deeper connections with others.
Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills
The Montessori method promotes challenges that are just right for kids – not too easy or too hard. Children develop problem-solving skills by playing with appropriately challenging toys. You, the adult, just need to oversee their play and ensure they’re playing safely.
Developing Emotional Intelligence
Beyond physical development, Montessori toys also help children work on their emotional intelligence. They help children recognize and understand emotions, leading to better attention, engagement, and stronger social bonds. The Montessori method fosters self-awareness, emotional regulation, and empathy.
How Do Montessori Toys Help Your 2-Year-Old Develop?
As we keep on saying, 2-year-olds are curious about everything. The perfect toys for kids at this age promote self-reliance and self-awareness while challenging their problem-solving abilities.
To help you select the next plaything for your child, we’ve compiled a list of the best Montessori toys for 2-year-olds out there. In no particular order...
1. Wooden Stones
These versatile stones enhance a child's coordination, balance, and focus, all while highlighting cause and effect. Whether they choose to stack, sort, or balance, there's no wrong way to play. This open-ended toy fuels creativity and, as they grow, can even adorn your garden as a charming decoration.
2. Building Blocks
This toy helps your child understand important concepts like shapes, sizes, and coordination, preparing them for school. Unlike TV and video games that are known to lead to shorter attention spans, these Montessori Building Blocks are educational and improve the child’s focus. It's safe for kids and the environment, as it's made of recyclable wood.
3. Story Book
A storybook? But no 2-year-old can read. Don’t worry; this 16-story activity book was made with toddlers in mind and features only images. It also fosters fine motor skills, memory, and problem-solving in toddlers. Crafted from a soft, easy-to-clean felt, it offers a quiet, safe playtime without sharp or small parts that can possibly hurt your toddler.
4. Happy Puzzle
Most 2-year-olds can only focus for 4 to 6 minutes at a time. However, you can improve your child’s focus with engaging toys like puzzles. Puzzles bolster patience and encourage kids to tackle challenges, which is essential for growth. Benefits include honing fine motor skills, enhancing memory, alleviating anxiety, and promoting self-reliance and imagination.
5. Busy Board
Last but not least, we have the Montessori Busy Board. It’s a popular educational toy for 2-year-olds that helps them develop essential skills. Besides hand-eye coordination, it also improves the child’s muscle memory and prolongs their attention span. The toy is compact and easy to carry around, which makes it perfect for traveling. If you’re looking for something simple yet efficient, you can’t go wrong with the Busy Board.
Many toys are advertised as “Montessori-inspired” or “made with Montessori methods in mind.” But this doesn’t guarantee that these toys will actually help your toddler develop. When picking the toy for your child, you must consider:
- Is the toy made out of sturdy, natural materials?
- Will it help your child develop cognitive/physical functions?
- Can your child play with it on its own, or does it demand oversight?
A true Montessori toy will likely get a 'Yes' to these questions.
Remember the three Es—education, engagement, and entertainment - when choosing toys that advance a child's development. Montessori effortlessly encompasses all three.
If you need any help finding a perfect toy for your toddler, write to us at email@example.com.
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