Is It Time Yet? When to Exchange For the Next Kit

Is It Time Yet? When to Exchange For the Next Kit

We hope you have enjoyed exploring your kit!  If you are wondering when it is time to exchange, this article has some things to consider.

Subscribers can exchange for a new kit with free shipping both ways every 2 months. More information on that here. If you need to exchange sooner, you can let us know by filling out the exchange form so that we can help make it right!

Is your child engaged with the items from the kit? 

Does your child take and play with the toys from the kit somewhat regularly? If so, then perfect, no need to exchange. Concentration is the most important skill they are developing, so if they are interested and engaged then no need to exchange!

If they have done the puzzle or other activity many times, is it “too easy” for them?

Repetition is an important aspect of learning in early childhood. Just because a child has done a puzzle successfully, doesn’t mean they are done with that puzzle or that it is “too easy” for them.  In fact it is important for them to be able to circle around and re-visit a toy many times. If they are still choosing to engage with the toys, they are still learning from them. For a more in depth look at the benefits of repetition check out this learning guide.

Is the toy “too hard” if my child is playing with it in a different way than was intended? 

Not necessarily! This is one of the main differences between Montessori inspired play at home and using materials in a Montessori classroom. The materials in a Montessori classroom each have a clear way that they should be explored. Some are more open-ended than others, but all have more “guidelines” than are needed at home. At home, it is important that children are able to play in an open-ended way. Your child may find an incredible new way of playing with a toy that is serving their unique needs at the moment. This is growing their concentration, creativity, and it is probably delighting them! The toys we have sent you are meant to be open-ended items, even the ones that were made with a specific purpose in mind. If your child is still engaged, then the toy is worth holding on to!

Check the environment

If your child isn’t engaging with the items in the kit, it is possible that the play environment isn’t conducive to the kind of concentrated play that our toys invite. If you have your toy shelf all set up, and you notice a particular toy isn’t getting played with, try putting it in different places on the shelf each day, or changing the presentation of the toy. Sometimes the position of the toy in the room is the thing that makes it less likely to be chosen. 

Rotate

Children do love a change in scenery. If a toy has stopped getting play-time consider taking it out of the rotation for a week or two and then reintroducing it. Not sure what a toy rotation is? Check this article.

Manage expectations

Toddlers and young children will often still need an adult nearby as they play. Most will need to engage with that adult regularly as they play. This is a natural part of toddler and young child play. In fact, the bonding and connection that happens from playing together are incredibly important for the health of your child and the parent-child relationship now and in the future. If your child is engaging with the items from the kit and still wants you to be nearby or to be playing with them, they are doing just what they need to do!  As they grow their concentration, you can fade into other work that you have nearby as they work. Having a child that wants to connect with you as they play is not a sign that the kit is too hard or too easy—it is a sign that your child is following their perfect inner-cues for connection!

Especially if your child hasn’t been able to witness other children playing due to the pandemic, they may need to watch you as you model playing with the items in different ways. This can spark their interest and creative juices.   

What are they engaged with? 

As always, it’s essential to observe your child. If they are interested in outside play or chores around the house, then follow their lead. This is not usually an indication that you have the wrong set of toys, just that your child is being drawn toward different work. Once that itch has been scratched they may come back to some settled play. It’s a great idea to have the toy kit available for a rainy day or when they are ready for some toy-centered play.

Is it time to re-fuel?

All children need to feel connected to their trusted adults, especially their parents or caregivers. If your child isn’t settling with the toys, it may be that they need a moment to “re-fuel”.  If at all possible, give them 10-20 minutes of undivided attention. If you can re-fuel outside with a snack, then you are re-fueling them with you, actual food, and nature all at once! After the re-fuel, notice if they are more interested in engaging with the toys. 

Signs that you need a different kit …

While many of our open-ended toys are hard to grow out of, it is possible—for some of the puzzles and other skill-specific items—that your child might be ready for the next challenge. If you find that your child has been able to successfully do the skill oriented items (for example: placing the blocks in the shape sorter) and they aren’t returning to the items for more engagement, then it may be time to exchange kits. 

If the kit you received has many items that are sparking frustration, and that frustration doesn’t dissipate with lessons and modeling, then you may need to exchange for some items that support slightly simpler skills. No one likes being asked to do things that are beyond their current ability!  Keep in mind that abilities change quickly at this age. Also, if they have had added stress, travel or changes in the home, most children will have a hard time practicing new skills. If you have tried the tips above and your child is still frustrated, take the toy out of the rotation, and bring it back in a few weeks. If they are still not ready, then it’s possible they need an earlier kit.  

At Tiny Earth, our subscribers can exchange for a new kit with free shipping both ways every 2 months (more information
here). If you still feel your kit isn’t meeting your child’s developmental needs, you can let us know by filling out the exchange form so that we can help make it right!