Development Through Play for Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

"Play is the work of the child"

-Maria Montessori

The development of children in the first five years is critical. Many adults and parents would think of "development" as only changes in physical growth. While changes such as growth can be visually observed, there is much more development taking place in your child that can not be observed visually. During this stage there is a progression of your child's executive function and social and emotional competence. 

In infancy, toddlerhood, and preschool age children development across different aspects, from mobility to intelligence, happens simultaneously through a myriad of experiences. 

Children's Experiences are pillars of Confidence and Competence - Development Through Play

A child's early experiences establish a foundation that will allow the child to grow up confident and competent. A confident and competent child is better prepared to deal with life's challenges through the learnings and the skills they gain. 

In the first five years of life, children are incredibly adventurous, always curious, and constantly learning through different activities that they engage in. Within this period, they develop their brain functions at the fastest rate of their lifetime.

Development through playing is one of the most effective activities for them to achieve optimal childhood development in different facets. When children play, they are deeply engrossed, involved, and learning almost involuntarily. Children can absorb information, feed their interests, and develop proficiency without consciously forcing themselves, like adults, when trying to learn or achieve anything. 

How to Support Development Through Play

Although play has an indispensable value in one's childhood, it comes in various types and stages that should fit a child's age. Parents need to pay attention to what kind of play is apt to facilitate maximal support in childhood development in terms of cognition, body movement, social functioning, and experiencing and understanding a wide array of emotions. 

Here, we'll detail how to provide the most suitable play activities and toys at children's different stages of development from ages 0 to 5. The childhood period in the first five years encompasses infancy, toddlerhood, and preschool hood. 

During Infancy

From birth to their third month, babies will begin to move their extremities by trying to grasp, clench their fists, put different items to their mouths, and suck. Parents should let the infants explore and pacify their curiosity through sensory experiences. 

Exploring environment through their senses

They will demonstrate significant interest in getting to know their environment through their different senses. They will stimulate and familiarize themselves with different textures, high-contrasting patterns, rich hues, tones, and sounds. 

Parents are highly encouraged to supply their children with toys and materials to optimize their children's sensory development, such as rattles and baby shakers for sounds; soft baby books with high-contrasting colors, such as black and white with patterns and shapes for vision; and mat infant toys.

Wooden Baby Jumper Development

At around 5 months of age you may want to look into a baby jumper. Baby jumpers are a great tool to keep your baby entertained, happy, and physcially moving. 

There is no hard rule about the age your baby is ready for a baby jumper. The US Consumer Protection Safety Commission states that babies can safely use jumpers when one of the following happens:

  • Your baby reaches 5 months of age
  • Your baby rolls over
  • Your baby attempts to pull themselves up on furntiture of a pull up bar

Baby jumpers are not created equal

Although baby jumpers are not part of the traditional montessori method I feel that they can fit into a modern montessori approach. I always suggest a baby jumper that is made of natural materials, such as wood, and has toys that encourage cognitive development by allowing your baby to explore their surroundings.

The Rue wooden baby jumper was designed with these principles in mind. It is made of wood and utilizes high quality play toys. The Rue is an exquisitely crafted, safely engineered wooden baby jumper. It is the only available baby jumper that is eco-friendly, non-toxic, and stylish wooden baby jumper.  

During Toddlerhood - Organic Cotton Play Tunnels

We define toddlers as 1-3 years of age. As toddlers develop their gross motor skills they will be more energetic in moving. Starting first from uncertain steps that are somewhat shaky before they can fully independently move their legs and then stand and walk. 

A good way to enhance up a toddler's play time is to surround them with stylish, safe, play items that encourage them to explore such as the Monty Organic Cotton Play Tunnel. An organic cotton play tunnel will encourage toddlers to explore their surroundings while by encouraging development through play.

The Monty Organic Cotton Play Tunnel provides an array of developmental benefits for your toddler, all the while being gentle on your child's skin. Here's how this simple yet effective Montessori-inspired toy can contribute to your toddler's growth:

  1. Gross Motor Skills: The act of crawling in and out of the organic cotton play tunnel helps your child build strength, coordination, and balance. These are key gross motor skills that will help in other aspects of their life, such as walking, running, and jumping.
  2. Spatial Awareness: As your toddler moves through the organic cotton play tunnel, they learn to navigate their body in a restricted space. This helps develop spatial awareness - understanding how their body moves and fits within the space around them.
  3. Sensory Development: The feel of the organic cotton against your child's skin provides sensory stimulation. This not only enhances their tactile experience but also can make the play tunnel a comforting space.
  4. Cognitive Development: A play tunnel can be a wonderful tool for imaginative play. It could be a cave, a secret passageway, or a hiding spot – the possibilities are endless. This stimulates creativity and cognitive development.
  5. Social Skills: Our organic cotton play tunnel promotes cooperative play. Taking turns to crawl through the tunnel or playing games around it improves social interaction and communication skills.
  6. Emotional Development: Our organic cotton play tunnel provides a sense of adventure and can also offer a sense of security, being in a 'den' where your toddler can feel safe. This can help your toddler learn to manage their feelings of fear and excitement, thus supporting their emotional development.

In the Montessori approach, we advocate for toys and play items that nurture a child's innate curiosity and independence. The Monty Organic Cotton Play Tunnel does exactly that, allowing children to explore, imagine, and create their own adventures.

Word recognition and pointing at objects

At this stage, toddlers will also be able to recognize words and point to objects. It typically starts at about one year. At this point, they can point to things that get their attention, either those they want to get or those they wish to make something out of. 

When babies are under one year old, they can only demonstrate their physical ability with basic objects such as banging or shaking. As toddlers continue to devleop through play they will start to stack blocks and make sense of the toys that simulate real-life objects. 

Learn by imitating or copying adults - development through play

Toddlers understand more than you may think. This becomes evident the first time you see your toddler copying what you do or say! Toddlers will also immitate the way you interact with their toys. You can help your toddler further explore their surroundings and develop through play by showing them things they can do with their toys. This action becomes their way of learning. 

For example, say they have a telephone toy. They may put the phone on their ears and pretend that they are speaking with someone on the phone. 

Although they would be able to start socializing and get themselves engaged with the other children, they have yet to develop the concept of cooperating with other children and don't have the idea of sharing their toys. 

During Preschool Age

At this stage in children's lives, it's just a few years before they begin formal education. Their psychomotor skills have developed highly, allowing them to move more independently. They would be able to interact with ride-on equipment and use scissors.

Preschoolers experience and understand emotions

Preschoolers could see adults and identify the difference between genders and copy adults. It's not extraordinary to see them pretend to play and dress up, showing great interest in copying and imitating different roles. At this point, they start to experience emotions. 

In addition to those things, they can now be cognitively equipped to organize games, better grasp comparing objects, and appreciate time. However, at this point, children still couldn't and wouldn't be able to differentiate the difference between pretenses and reality. 

Becoming more  physically active

On the physical side of play, as they have finished their gross motor skills, it's not uncommon to see children doing highly physical activities, such as those that involve strong leg works or works on big muscle groups, such as running and climbing that will help them develop their balance, coordination, and agility. They will become more active in outdoor activities requiring them to move a lot, such as playing with the mud or lying on the grass. 

Better attention span

Preschool is typically between 3 and 4. Children will have a better attention span at four years of age, but that doesn't mean they can last long for those activities that they find tedious and arduous, although they would like to move a lot. 

At five years, they will have a better attention span and may be able to start finishing off a game or a topic. 

Monty Toys - A Revolution in Child's Play

As parents, we naturally seek the best for our little ones. We understand, consciously or intuitively, that the first 5 years of our child's life will shape the structure of their brain for the rest of their life.

Monty Toys isn't just another toy store.

Our toys are a testament to the importance of our children's early years.

Monty Toys are designed and curated by our child developmental experts to nurture your child's innate curiosity, fostering independence, critical thinking, and respect for oneself, others, and their surroundings.

By providing strategic toys and materials tailored to your child's developmental stage, we allow children and parents to become active agents in their own education and development.

Every product from Monty Toys comes with a tailored 1-page informational document, ensuring parents grasp the educational essence and purpose of each toy. This guide illuminates the science behind the toy's design and offers insights into enhancing a child's learning experience.

It's not just about play; it's about informed, developmental engagement for both child and parent.

Join us in Learning through Play!

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