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Exploring Toys -- Montessori Baby Week 17

When babies are born, the Montessori mobiles are their first materials. As they get older they start wanting more and more to explore. Within a couple months Montessori babies are ready for exploring toys. Once babies discover their hands, they start becoming more and more adept at using them. And, soon, it's not just their hands that are getting in on the action, but their whole bodies -- their feet, mouths, legs, and bellies. As this happens, suddenly our job in preparing the environment changes! 

Here are some ways to respond when your Montessori baby is interested in exploring toys! Offering choices and preparing a baby's space become important ways to encourage movement and independence for a young baby.

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Augustus is officially 4-months-old and he has hit this point big time! He is much less interested in staring at a wall, but wants to move, feel, and do. On the day he turned 4-months, he actually rolled for the very first time in hot pursuit of his favorite toy -- a Calmies ball. He is still my slowest gross motor baby, but the wheels are turning on how to grasp, mouth, hold, drop, and move objects around the environment. 
"Our role in creating the environment in which the child can fulfill his potential is very, very important." Susan Mayclin Stephenson

Here are some ways to respond when your Montessori baby is interested in exploring toys! Offering choices and preparing a baby's space become important ways to encourage movement and independence for a young baby.

How do we respond to this new exploration? 

I think there are two ways to respond to this new found interest in specific objects. First, don't just hand your baby one object to explore. Instead, start handing that decision making over to your child. Hold two choices and watch for your baby's response. I usually don't say anything or wave the toy. Just simply present the options. Sometimes Gus will look at one or, more recently, reach for one over the other. Then, that is the one I will place into his hands. 

After he chooses, I give him the language, "you picked your gnome. Here is your gnome." This is just the first of many choices we can begin to give him as he is become more aware and more able to respond. 


Second, I place interesting objects for Gus to discover and explore in his environment. As he has been since birth, placing Gus on the floor for playtime is extremely important at this stage. Especially now that he is really starting to try and move, giving him this freedom is critical. Part of this now includes carefully selecting a few materials to place around Augustus so that when he is exploring he can start to work on all these new skills. 
"It is like watching a scientist, but the schedule and wisdom is inborn, not learned in a university." Susan Mayclin Stephenson 
Whether it's grasping, cuddling, mouthing, or just exploring, I try to pick materials that will speak to him in some way or another. Things that are going to motivate him to move. To work on those new skills. Materials that will provide just the right amount of challenge without being frustrated. When I place things around him, I keep it to two or three things. I place them in areas where I know he will discover them by using the skills I have seen him use. So, I'm not placing things five feet away from him, but instead a couple of inches.

Here are some ways to respond when your Montessori baby is interested in exploring toys! Offering choices and preparing a baby's space become important ways to encourage movement and independence for a young baby.

Observation is key, not only to know where to place items, but also to know when to step in and help. At this age, there can be some frustration over not being able to do exactly what they want. You need to observe your child to really understand when he/she is showing frustration and when its moving into distress. And, remember it's OK to let them express frustration or struggle, we don't always need to step in immediately, but we want to be there when they have lost control over the situation. This isn't always an easy line to spot. 

How do you create an environment for exploration? Do you find it difficult to know when to step in and when to let go? 

Comments

MINandMIK said…
What about Skwish? When did kids start to play with this toy?
Did you have any concerns about putting a metal bell in their mounth? It scares me a bit ��
Sofia Jones said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sofia Jones said…
Hello, you have shared such lovely and valuable blog. Montessori is a good platform for every small kid to boost mind and explore their extraordinary ideas. So a few months ago I bought some educational Materials from the online shop for my 4 years old son. Those product are very helpful for my child.
Anna said…
I am really enjoying reading your week to week posts about Gus' development! I just discovered Montessori for my 15 week old son and I want details. :)

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