Often, parents who start with #MontessoriatHome ask this question.
But, before jumping into this toy selection, remember that you have to be a prepared adult first. Raising children is more about raising ourselves. There is no such thing as a "parenting expert" -- each child is unique, each family is unique. We learn about being a parent from our children.
Once you have a good understanding about what Montessori really is, try applying these basic guidelines which helped my husband and I navigate the options, and helps support us in informed decision making for our children's toy selection.
With the abundance of choices available to us nowadays, it is becoming harder and harder to select beautiful toys (or materials) that appeal to our children’s needs and meet them where they are developmentally.
I mentioned in previous posts that “pretend play” & pretend toys or fantasy is not encouraged for very young kids. Aside from children wanting to learn the real thing instead of pretending to clean or cook, they are also still making sense of the world so to avoid confusion and to help them develop concrete and then abstract thinking, we use realistic looking toys (for example, animal figurines vs cartoony stuffed toys). This might be difficult for us as adults to understand, but research has shown that most children before the age of five are unable to differentiate between real and fictitious characters and situations (like Santa, fairies, etc).
Also, we need to give toys that encourage a child to “reconstruct” or use their creativity. You cannot create anything unless you imagine it as Einstein said. For example, Kara would use her blocks and her toy cars to build a garage then she’d come up with a story. We don't put toys that just needs a push of a button for it to work. I may sound like a broken record here, but I always say: "busy babies over busy toys."
And what is the impact of this approach? They are growing up as excellent problem-solvers and are very active too (good for the mind and body) 😉
Where do you get your children's toys? Some of ours are inherited (30+ yrs old, some even as old as my parents!)
~ Mommy Karen