How to introduce toys - The Montessori Way

Most items in the Curious Cub Box are Montessori aligned - but offering them to your baby is entirely upon you! Your new Montessori Box has arrived, now what next? How do you present it to your child for them to engage with it. Some parents involve their children in the unboxing process. Some give them one item at a time. While some set it out on the shelf! But what is the Montessori way to present materials to the child?

Let’s take a few steps back. Before introducing a new toy to your child, a prepared environment is important. A space free of clutter with a low accessible shelf for your child. Minimal items set out made from natural materials and neutral colors. Once the environment is ready, you can introduce a new toy to your child by keeping the following in mind

1. Less is more

When working with your child speak fewer words but choose the few intentionally. You do not want to overwhelm your child by using words that are not necessary. Focus on action words and say the rest by doing - show not tell!

2. Modelling

Instead of telling your child what to do, you get down on the floor with them and begin using the materials. Work with them in a way where your child can see. Model appropriate grip and form and the right way to use the new materials. Use this as an opportunity to develop language by introducing new vocabulary. Do not hold back when naming parts of the materials or explaining Science concepts assuming your child is too young. Their brains are like sponges and they absorb everything around them. 

3. Turn taking

After you have modeled the use of the materials, invite your child to have a turn. Observe quietly and refrain from intervening. Do not disturb their focus or break their concentration. Give them uninterrupted time to manipulate the materials and know that they might come up with a totally different way to use them. If your child, for instance, starts throwing the materials, you can say, “These are not for throwing. Would you like to throw your ball instead?”     

4. Practicing

Repetition is key and we have all heard the famous saying, practice makes perfect. We are not looking for perfection, but offering ample opportunities for your child to use the same materials not only helps them build on a skill, but also demands creativity - they might use the same materials in different ways and learn more about how it works. Encourage them to put the materials back once they are done. Leave the work undone which makes it more inviting for them to try it again.

5. Process vs product

Your child might not be able to do everything correctly or even finish the task. Focus on the process and identify small successes - celebrate your child’s growth no matter how small. 

6. Application

Give your child the opportunity to apply their newly developed skill in a real life situation. For example, after you introduce the lockbox from the level 10 playkit and your child has had enough time to work with it, give them the opportunity to use locks and latches on the doors in your house. This helps them understand the purpose of their play and how it has a real-life application.                     

While toys are placed on a toy shelf, the books should be placed in a front facing bookshelf with only 7- 10 books with covers showing. Children are naturally gravitated to the covers so having them visible builds interest in reading.

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