Today’s blog is brought to you by Marie Wurdeman, Head Directress of Eden Montessori. Eden Montessori is a stunning Montessori school located in George. For more information on the school, visit their website at edenmontessori.co.za , and like them on facebook at Eden Montessori School
We all know that babies like to touch things and to put them in their mouths. This usually prompts new moms to make sure that anything breakable or precious is put away and that everything within reach is super clean. As a child, my baby sister was promptly put in a play pen which restricted her ability to reach anything new or more interesting than the toys in the playpen.
Maria Montessori, on who’s teachings the Montessori Method is based, saw this phase in a beautiful light. She said that through the child’s interaction with his environment and the people therein, he comes to understand himself and the limits of his universe. Since he has to be able to explore and experience in order to make sense of his environment, he has to be allowed to move around. Together, the tactile and the motor, achieve the integration of the child’s personality; a most vital part of development.
What does this mean for the mom who has relocated her beautiful ornament from the coffee table in order to assure that the child and ornament remain intact?
Obviously make sure that your child’s environment is safe. Then allow them to move and explore. If they topple over, give them a moment to see if they can get themselves up before rescuing them. Let them climb under things. If they get a bit stuck they will eventually realise that they are too big to get through a hole that size. Keep an eye on them to make sure they remain safe but allow them to move. Place a toy just out of their reach. Watch how hard they have to work in order to reach it. Even small babies who are just rolling can feel accomplishment when the toy is reached at last.
Allow them to repeat an action many times, if they wish. This is a characteristic of a Sensitive Period for development. A period during which they are “absorbed with one characteristic of the environment to the exclusion of others”. (1)
I would like to focus on the second Sensitive Period which is the need to explore the environment with the hand and the tongue.
The child must have objects to explore in order to develop the neurological structures of perceiving and thinking.
The senses remain crucial in the development of the child’s mind throughout childhood and should never be neglected. Stimulate them through exposing your child to many items which vary in qualities such as textures, tastes and smells. Touch helps to determine the temperature of items. Metal, glass, cork, wood, fabric and plastic all feel warm or cold. The sense of hearing is stimulated by sounds in the environment and by language. The sounds of music, bird songs, waves, wind, barking, tyres on gravel etc. all contribute to a rich sense of the world around the child. Even movement has an effect on the development of the structures within the inner ear.
Swinging or rocking do not just have a soothing effect on a child. They help the child’s brain to determine his position within the space around him.
In light of the above, choosing toys becomes very important. When choosing a toy, try to select natural materials above plastic. Plastic is easier to keep clean and comes in bright colours, but natural materials have varying textures and temperatures included in the toy. They last longer and are easier to mend in a society which is becoming increasingly conscious about its effect on the environment.
Toys can be a wonderful source of stimulation for your child. Choose fewer, well-made toys and use rich, expressive language when introducing them to you child. You might find that you enjoy playing as much as they do!
(1) Polk Lilliard, P. 1972. Montessori – A Modern Approach.
We have introduced a range of educational activities, made LOCALLY, at Diskonto Stationers. These all promote tactile learning, and can be a wonderful tool to help improve your child’s schoolwork!
Contact us now to order your own educational activities!Medium button