You’ve likely heard about Montessori education, which was developed by Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator. This alternative education approach builds on the natural tendencies of children.
Montessori features readily available realistic play materials that are designed to help children relate to and process the world around them.
The Montessori Method of Teaching
Montessori education involves playful hands-on learning — children teach themselves through active exploration. The approach is:
- Child-centric: Children are eager to learn and absorb the world around them. They are encouraged to play with age-appropriate items to help them learn from their environment and grow in independence.
- Present tense: Children may repeat an activity over and over. A child is welcome to continue an activity for as long as they wish. In this way, the Montessori environment prioritizes the present and doesn’t look to the future or the clock to determine what comes next.
- Reality-based: In the Montessori environment, you rarely find fantasy-oriented play. Instead, children are encouraged to use age-appropriate items that have a real-life purpose. For example, they have access to plastic knives to cut real bananas and feed themselves (versus feeding fake bananas to a stuffed animal).
- Freely chosen: The Montessori setting offers a variety of materials for children to choose from (but not so many that they feel overwhelmed by the clutter). Children select activities that make them happy and keep their attention. Once they disengage from their selected activity, they choose another and work with it for as long as they wish.
Montessori Toys for Babies and Toddlers
As a parent, I think it’s important to foster a Montessori approach from day one. We don’t have to wait for kids to enter preschool to help them develop their:
· Love of learning
All you need are a handful of appropriate toys and daily interactions with your baby! At Kleynimals, we’ve designed several of our toys to mesh with the Montessori philosophy (and other holistic-education philosophies like Steiner and slow-learning):
· Flatware: In the Montessori environment, children feed themselves from a very young age. Self-feeding helps foster independence and fine motor skills. We designed our flatware to fit perfectly in baby’s hands.
· Keys: Babies love to play with metal keys. At first, it might be the sound or cool touch that interests them. Eventually, they may put them to use to “unlock” things around the house. We designed our clean key animals to stimulate the imagination and improve gross and fine motor skills.
· Rattles: As with our keys, the sound and cool touch of our stainless steel rattles will capture your baby’s imagination. Your child can wear the jangles around their wrist, so they feel like they’re wearing the jewelry mom does (Tip: You can also wear them as a bracelet when your child isn’t using it…no one will know!).
While my kids enjoy Kleynimals toys (obviously!), I know we aren’t the only company out there making Montessori-inspired baby toys and learning toys for toddlers. We make our toys from non-toxic, dishwasher-safe stainless steel, but other safe options include wooden puzzles, stackers and activity boxes. I also love wooden brushes with natural bristles.
Shop the Kleynimals lineup of Montessori toys. And give them as gifts whenever you can — I guarantee they will bring joy to the recipient over many years.