This will be the last in the series of infant posts, not because the topic has been exhaustively covered, in fact we have barely scratched the surface! This is because there are so many other pressing topics that keep jumping out of the box each day.
I am actually starting to write this post a bit later than usual because I have just spent the morning trying to find a good and pocket friendly Montessori school for one of my online community friends. We found one in the end, thanks to the good network of Montessorians available. But that of course is a story for another day.
Today lets look at these infant materials. Why not call them toys, which they are in a way, but they are toys that serve specific developmental purposes for the child. It is important for us as parents and teachers to get this right from the beginning. Each child has a job to do, and that is to construct themselves into the man they will become. Thinking that they are here to play when they are babies and toddlers and don’t need to learn intentionally is getting everything upside down.
Let me ask you a question, please. If your baby just lay where you put her, not moving her hands, feet, or even head and eyes when you carried her, wont you be concerned? Would you not end up in the clinic/hospital asking the doctor to take a look and assure you that all is well? If your child was doing all this but at six months laid on their chest making no attempt to use their hands to try and lift or shift self from said position, wont sit, or attempt to hold on to objects or toys you offer her, would you think that is normal? If at 2 years your child is not walking, does not respond to anything you say, at three is not talking, neither can she obey simple commands, like ‘Come here’. Would you not be worried?
Most of our children glide into doing all the above and more everyday, it is normal. Yes, it is, but guess what your child has been intentionally constructing herself. So learning starts right from the beginning. We need to respect this learning process and not assume that all is a game and play for the child.
Before I get shouted at by some of my friends, let me just put this out there, I am all for children having fun and learning joyfully, I actually got into the Montessori method of educating a child through my love of wanting children to enjoy learning, have fun etc. etc. etc. So do not think for a moment that what I am saying is that everything has to be work, work, work. What I am saying though is we should understand how children develop and learn, watch out for what they need and be able to provide it for them.
The hands are an important learning tool for an infant so this week I present you with a few hand tools, materials toys that a baby may find interesting, and would also aid them develop their hands to become a great learning tool as they grow older.
Let’s just explore each object briefly:
- The Pincer grip block – These should be used when the child has already learned to grasp objects with his palms and is ready to move on to using the fingers, at around 9 months.
- The Interlocking Discs – These are helpful for several reasons, helps the child to transfer holding from one hand to the other and involves developing the ability to turn the wrists in a rotating motion. The child also will use this for teething.
- The Montessori Bell Cylinder – With this bell the child can learn cause and effect and also figures out and sees exactly what is making the sound. The hands are also kept moving as he turns it and holds on to the different poles exchanging it in his hands as he examines this interesting object.
- The egg with cup and peg with cup – This is very handy for a 8 to 9 month old baby, who at this stage is fascinated with putting things together, it also aids eye hand co-ordination. The child will continuously enjoy putting one into the other to make it fit.
- The wooden car – This serves as a grasping object, a teething ring, and sometimes serves also as a rattle. These can come in form of animals as well.
- The Ball teether – Babies love to grasp onto these and use as a teething material.
This is definitely not an exhaustive list, but a beginning, to enable you to see that there are so many infant materials/toys out there that can aid our child’s development.
A word of caution though please ensure that the materials are made from safe wood and non-toxic glue etc. Please keep our infants safe.