Toys for Infants and Toddlers

6 Gifts That Encourage Child-Directed Play

There are large parts of the infant and toddler school day that are taken up by adult-directed activities such as cleaning up, hand-washing, nap time, lessons, transitional activities, and circle time activities. All of these are important activities for children, but for ideas on how to give a child safe materials to entertain him- or herself for a while, here is a good list.

Don’t misunderstand the message – the primary purpose of providing these materials for children is for their own intellectual, physical, and social developmental needs. Children benefit from having time to explore on their own, uninterrupted by adults. It is the caregiver’s responsibility to provide appropriate materials, and get out of the way. Definitely supervise at all times! But, supervise at a distance, so that the child has an opportunity to explore independently.

This is not equivalent to the adult caregiver checking out in any way while the children play on their own. The adult is a mostly passive participant in the child’s active learning experience. Always present, always observing, so as to understand the child’s interests, communication habits, and progress from day to day, hour to hour.

Montessori Mobiles

Overview of Montessori Mobiles

What do infants do in a Montessori daycare? Of course, eating, napping, and diapering take up a lot of the child’s day. During these times, a lot of slowly paced, clear language is being used to explain to the child what is going on. I also make eye contact with the child, and smile often. It may seem silly to some that I would talk to an infant that can’t respond, but the child, who is absorbing everything in his environment, is learning language every day by listening to your speech and watching the way your mouth forms the words.

The infant is also given plenty of time to concentrate on visual discrimination through black and white pictures and various mobiles to help with visual and physical development at this stage of life. Babies can recognize the sharp contrasts of black and white in the first three months. Soon they will begin to recognize different colors and a range of shades. The Gobbi mobile helps the child begin to recognize order as the shades are ordered from dark to light, and the length is ordered from long to short. Physical development is aided as the child begins to reach for the mobile with arms or legs, at first by accident, and eventually with purpose.

And of course, order should be demonstrated in every aspect of the daycare environment because the infant is absorbing every visual, audible, tactile, gastric and olfactory stimulus. Even though the child is not yet working with the materials on the shelf, the child is taking in the order visible on the shelves such as the pink tower and the brown stair, and even an orderly bookshelf.

The infant may appear to be simply laying around and not doing anything, but in a well-prepared environment, the infant is actually doing very important work!

Movement and Reading Readiness

Reading Readiness Has To Do With The Body

Love. Love this article, and wholeheartedly agree. It’s not well understood just how time spent with physical play and exploration can prepare the mind for such a complex task as reading. Not memorizing or reciting words or texts, but Reading. Reading for enjoyment, comprehension, information, and all the reasons why we believe reading ability is important for success in life. It’s difficult for traditionalists to trust and believe, especially in our competitive culture where “earlier is better” attitude prevails. Earlier may seem better, but more and more research now shows the fallacy of this approach. Movement is the foundation for reading (and lifelong learning) success.