5 Steps to Learning Through Play

5 Steps to Learning Through Play

By Olynda Smith

We’ve worked to bring you toys that are not only good medicine for the planet, but are also supportive to your child’s own growth and wellbeing. This introduction is intended to help you get the most benefit out of your kit. And if you’re not yet a subscriber, you can use these same principles in your home.

These toys are beautifully crafted tools. Like all tools, how they are used makes all the difference in the outcome of their work. With each kit I share insight and suggestions to help inform your use of these items. These suggestions come from my work as a Montessori teacher, Simplicity Parenting Family Life coach and Mother. I encourage you to try these ideas out, to use what works for your child and your family - and discard the rest!

We like to think of these toys as just one point of our connection with you. They are an invitation to step more deeply into a conscious, connected, and simple lifestyle. And, they are an invitation to join a supportive community of parents and professionals working to step into that lifestyle alongside you. Welcome and enjoy!

 

Creating the Environment

The toys you receive have the potential to help your child cultivate their concentration, independence, a sense of order, coordination, confidence, calmness and connection. These are all highly valuable qualities that will lay the foundation for your child to thrive. In order to gain these benefits, we have to set the stage, or the environment, as Montessorians call it.

In the Montessori method, we consider the environment everything the child encounters in the spaces they are playing, learning and living in. How we organize the furniture and toys is part of the environment, along with all the sounds, smells, lighting and other elements of the space. The classroom environment is considered as important as the teacher. Your home environment will set the stage for how deeply your children can focus and how much they can learn from and enjoy these toys. Creating a positive environment is a deep study.

 

Keep it Simple

A simple environment will allow our littlest learners to feel joyfully settled and it will help them grow their ability to focus. If you are able, carve out a space in your home that is specifically for your child’s play. Even if you cannot dedicate an entire room, having a dedicated space can create a great play environment. Aim for having 8 - 10 play items available at a time and a single set of low cubbies, or a set of baskets placed on the ground that can hold the toys.

Too many toys can create an inability for the child to focus. It is easier said than done, but try to clear away distractions. Less truly is more. Keep screens out of this area if possible. Leaving your phone on silent and in another room during playtime (even some of the time) will promote connection and model presence for your child. Use music consciously, even music can break a child’s ability to focus.

 

Invite Engagement

Get low to the ground and see this play-space from your child’s perspective. Make sure they can see all the items that are available for playing with. Attempt to make this a “yes” space. Clear away anything dangerous or that you don’t want them to interact with. Place their eight to ten play items in an inviting and accessible way. They should be able to get the items and, eventually, put them back with no help from you. This will increase interest, and help your little one grow in confidence and independence.

 

Rotate

So what do you do with all the other stuff? Create a rotation system! Place all other toys somewhere your child can not see or access them. Switch the toys out every week or two for “new” ones. Young children will be delighted to see things come back through the rotation. This keeps your space uncluttered and invites engagement.

 

Introducing Toys

When you first get your kit, consider placing 1 - 3 toys out in the play space at a time. Give them a full day or more with those toys before you rotate.

This will give your child time to deeply explore each toy. Then you can place them out in different combinations for more interesting play!

Summary

Simplify the play-space to promote a sense of order, calmness and concentration.

Limit distractions in the environment to allow your child to develop the ability to focus.

Keep screens away from the play space.

Display toys in an accessible and inviting way to encourage independence and order.

Rotate toys to help decrease clutter and increase engagement, interest and focus.

Incorporate these practices to the extent you are able. Remember, even small changes can have a big impact on your child and the environment.

 

The Materials Guide

In addition to the Educational Play Guide, every kit comes with a Materials Guides that includes play invitations and recommendations for each toy. Check out an example of one below!