The same, but different
A key element of the Montessori Method is the importance of repetition. Like all of Dr. Maria Montessori’s work, she came to understand the importance of repetition through observing children.
She noticed, as you may also have noticed, that young children can spend long periods of time doing the same thing over and over again! This may seem puzzling to an adult observer until we realize that what they are “doing” is not what we think. We may see that they are busy taking the toy bees out of their hives and putting them back in again and again. But they are not actually taking bees out and putting them back in again. They are actually building in themselves the many skills involved in doing that work: color matching, gross motor movement, hand strength, and concentration to name a few.
We adults are not so different. People who practice yoga spend countless hours doing the same poses. If you were watching a yogi, you might wonder why they keep doing the same poses! But they are not doing the pose for the pose’s sake. They are building strength, balance, mindfulness and love. In the same way, the children may repeat something many, many times. What they are building through their play is themselves.
“We are built to play and built through play,” writes Stuart Brown in Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul.
Children also benefit from repeating activities that they did in the past. By coming back to toys they used to play with, your child gets a chance to see how much they have grown. It can be comforting and often settles children to revisit an old toy. When they see the growth they have had, that can give them what they need to try something new and challenging! If you have old toys of theirs tucked away, make sure to bring them back out as a “blast from the past” every once in a while. You may wish to even request an old favorite in your next box!
What is missing?
Here is a simple, fun game that helps develop memory. It is a wonderful way to get kids moving on a rainy day.
- Take a few items and place them on the floor in a line. At first pick only three to five items. You can increase from there.
- Point to each item to review the name of that item.
- Cover the line of items with a blanket and ask your child to run across the room and back to you.
- As they look away from you, take one item out and hide it in your lap or hand. When they come back, have a big reveal by taking the blanket off the items. Ask “What is missing?” They guess until they get it right and you can show them.
- Take turns - your child will love getting to be the one taking an item away. This game also helps adults develop memory as well!
For advanced players, you can use more items! Another advanced variation is to change the order of the items instead of taking one item away, asking “What is different?”! If you are introducing your child to a second language, you can play in that second language after you have introduced the names of the objects and are sure your child knows them. You can also choose items that are the same shape, but different colors and have them name the color of the missing item.