I am an early childhood educator turned mama, with a passion for building a strong foundation for little hearts and minds. It is such a joy to see children learn about the world around them starting in infancy and I hope to foster that joy in others by supporting intentional play.
As any parent knows, the choices are almost endless when it comes to finding toys for your child. From the day your little one reaches for her first rattle, all the way up to engaged hours of independent play, it can feel overwhelming to choose toys that will captivate little hands and minds for more than a few months.
There are a few criteria I look for when deciding whether or not to purchase a toy for my child (the same criteria I used when purchasing materials for my classrooms of infants and preschoolers before starting my own family).
* Quality materials: is the toy durable, made to last through multiple children and perhaps even multiple generations? Not only does this cut down on the waste of broken toys being tossed after one tot, but it generally results in toys that are much more pleasant to look at, touch, and play with.
* Multiple uses: can it be played with in more than one way? Can it be used in open-ended play, leading to discoveries in language, motor skills, and mathematical or scientific concepts (shapes, colors, movement, sound, and much more)?
* Aesthetic appeal: Now this may seem unimportant, but toys that you think are beautiful, well-made, and engaging will be toys you want to have out and available to your children. They will teach your child to appreciate their environment and value beauty around them. One aspect of Montessori philosophy I hold dear is the importance of instilling a sense of belonging in your child’s environment with carefully chosen materials, which promotes creativity, learning, and a desire to care for and maintain that environment.
That being said, a few intentionally chosen toys will save you money in the long run, cut down on waste, and promote a play environment which spurs intrigue (rather than spurring the need to purge toys every three months!). Tune in for my next post with a review of a toy that is providing my 9-month-old with endless entertainment. In the meantime, look at your child’s existing toy collection. Do any of your toys meet the three criteria above? Tell me about them in a comment below!