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The Montessori philosophy is experiencing a resurgence of interest among parents and educators. Although it is over 100 years old, it still represents an innovative alternative pedagogy today.
Developed by Maria Montessori (1870-1952), Italy's first female physician and doctor of philosophy, this educational method is based on one concept: the child is the center of learning and his or her senses are his or her main tools.
This philosophy is based on four essential principles:
1. The spirit of absorption: the child soaks up information from his environment and internalizes it.
2. Sensitive periods: these are the stages in the child's development when he or she is going to be most apt to acquire a particular knowledge or skill.
3. The role of the adult: the parents or teachers are responsible for awakening the child's autonomy, illusion and imagination. That is, to guide them to observe, explore and question.
4. The prepared environment: the environment must be prepared to meet the needs of the child. These are social, emotional, intellectual, moral, testing, order and safety.
If we transfer this methodology to the home, it can become a true philosophy of life.
As stated above, the senses are the fundamental instruments in the child's learning process. Thus, wooden toys become vehicles for developing Montessori techniques and values in the home environment.
Remember how all the elements of the real world attract the attention of children, even when they are still very young. They always want to imitate what adults do and like to have fun discovering the objects we use in everyday life.
We've grouped the Montessori games into different categories and selected an example of a game from each. This makes it easier to understand why each type is useful, how it is used, and what its advantages and disadvantages are.
Fine motor skills are the coordination of muscles and nerves to produce small movements and in a precise way. These movements occur in parts such as the fingers and are usually coordinated with the eyes. It also occurs in the hands, wrists, feet, toes, lips, and tongue.
Throughout each sensitive period of a child's life (infancy, preschool, and school age), motor skills develop.
This tactile puzzle illustrated by artist Michelle Carlslund for vilac allows children to position wooden pieces in counter shapes and discover textures that also help them memorize which piece is expected.
Although stacking games are part of the fine motor development group, there is a wide variety and different levels of complexity, so they deserve a separate section.
The hand is responsible for many essential motor actions, one of the most relevant (if not the most important) being the so-called pinching movement, which involves mostly the index finger and thumb.
The importance of the finger muscles and their development in terms of correct hand mobility should be emphasized. Working with them in the early years of life provides the muscle tone needed to perform complex movements later on, from writing to throwing.
Stacking toys are used to train the essential motor actions of squeezing, grasping, mouthing, releasing, pulling, and after going through all of these phases, inserting the objects into each other.
This wooden ring stacking game by Djeco makes our wooden stacking game collection. It is a very representative model of the classic stacking game. It is made of very smooth wood and each piece has a different color to help the child differentiate it.
You can find other types of objects around the house that you can stack to add variety. Such as plates, glasses or baby bowls.
As explained earlier Montessori theory advocates the interpretation of reality itself. Symbolic play has many connections with real life.
For Maria Montessori, there was no difference between play and reality, which is why she defended the idea that toys should reflect the real world.
Symbolic games provide children with unstructured and imaginative play, which is necessary for the development of creativity and conflict resolution by themselves or through teamwork.
Some examples: trains or car tracks, dollhouses, replicas of people and animals, or tool and instrument boxes for playing at occupations.
This Moulin roty Tool Box from the DIY Workshop collection is a perfect example of imitation games. Simulating realistic wood and metal tools, they allow children to imitate grown-ups and participate in the work.
Children are drawn to musical instruments. They play melodies that they can create themselves and it is always a joyful moment.
The musical language contains basic elements that even a baby's ear can pick up and form. Fine motor skills are again needed, as playing an instrument requires hand and finger coordination.
A set of musical instruments is a very good idea to allow the progress of auditory and musical faculties. The instruments are interesting because they can be used with the family or the child can use them on their own.
Composed of a rich collection of musical instrument, this musical set by Michelle Carlslund includes a small xylophone, two castanets, a tambourine, and a triangle. Something to get your family started with music.
Many items around the house can be turned into instruments. Why don't you put some (dry) food paste in a tube of tablets? You'll get a nice homemade maracas.
The building games include games that serve to strengthen spatial vision and discovery of physics principles, but also intuition and mental agility.
The classic wooden blocks have different sizes, geometric shapes and colors that help children grasp symmetry, balance, weightlessness.
The game from the collection Under the Vilac Canopy is made up of 54 brightly colored and variously shaped wooden cubes that allow children to multiply construction styles, and learn colors while having fun.
Learning through play is a great way to achieve desirable long-term results: autonomy, confidence, discipline and emotional intelligence.
Don't forget that in the Montessori method, your role as an adult is to help the child help himself. There are no goals, no competition, no imposed rules.
It is important to respect the individual development of each child. It is essential to allow our little ones to experiment freely and without pressure, motivating their curiosity, interests and concerns.
We must let children learn about themselves and the world we live in. Using materials, games, share real quality time with them.
All of this makes them feel valuable.
Learning through play is a real pleasure!