Encouraging Educational Play the Montessori Way
The Montessori concept is based on allowing your child develop a love for learning by providing an environment that lets them create, socialise, play, develop and build confidence. Montessori style classrooms are usually set up in a way so that each child can explore the things they are interested in, rather than the traditional one-size fits all. This approach offers young minds the opportunity to explore and develop their interpersonal skills as well as the traditional “educational” ones.
But how can you bring this education style into your child’s play at home? This can be really simple! By providing the appropriate toys, games and learning material, you can offer your child the freedom to explore, build, make and learn in their own unique way. Here are some simple ways how you can go about bringing Montessori concepts into your child’s everyday activities.
Toys prompting Imagination
Providing your little ones with toys that spark creativity, imagination and problem solving is one of the most important ways you can introduce self-directed learning to them. Try to find things like blocks, counting tools, puzzles and toys that prompt sensory exploration. Wooden toys are usually the best for this, as they are simple, timeless and also great for the environment compared to their plastic alternatives. Try to avoid battery activated toys where kids need only press buttons, as these leave nothing to the child’s imagination and creativity.
Playing with older and younger kids
The Montessori approach encourages the mingling of children within a three year age difference bracket. This provides a way for the younger children to learn from the older ones, for older ones to reinforce their learning by assisting the younger ones, for kids to socialise in various ways and to respond to children’s different maturity levels. This also allows the child to learn in a non-competitive environment. So if your children have siblings, cousins & friends try to create opportunities for regular meet-ups or join local mother-child groups.
Size Appropriate Furniture
For optimal learning, children need a space that is size appropriate for them. By giving children size appropriate furniture and storing their toys in easy to reach places like low-lying shelving and cupboards, you will encourage them to use their environment more, become more independent and to help themselves to the activities they want to learn more about. Giving children furniture like the Helper Tower can also facilitate the reaching of furniture that is difficult to modify like the kitchen so as to prompt more their independence.
With technology playing a central role in our lives these days, it is of utmost importance to give children the opportunity to explore the outdoor environment. Getting their hands dirty, exploring nature and learning about the world gives them a head start in life. The outdoor environment is also a great setting to learn about science and about the importance of looking after our planet. Things you find in the garden or a nearby field like leaves, sticks, stones and plants also inspire your children’s creativity and imagination.
The fundamental point to using Montessori style education in your everyday children’s play at home is to give children the opportunity to play & learn, explore & discover in their own unique way. By providing the appropriate play environment for them from a very young age, they will become more inclined to get creative, start their own activities, projects and to explore their passions and interests.