Finding just the 'right' activity for your child can be difficult. I love to make activities and baskets from items found in the home, toddlers love to explore what is around them. Charity shops, Gumtree and Facebook can be good sources but it's sometimes a risk. Blogs and stores can help based on your child's age but there are times you never know if it's going to be a success until you present it to your child. Sometimes I feel age almost shouldn't be considered but rather skill level and interest.
One of the key things I look for is activities that hit the 'sweet spot'. Activities that are not too easy and not too hard.
If it is too easy it will not challenge the child. The child may still like the activity and once a child has mastered an activity they may want to repeat it. I leave out all favourite activities but when finding or presenting an activity I look for those that will add to the child's skill set. If it's too easy it may not interest the child at all.
If it is too hard the child will feel frustration and may give up. If you have too many activities out like this it may impact on the child's development and ego, they may stop engaging with their toys and materials completely, they may come to doubt their abilities. We also want to support the child where they are at, if the materials are too hard the child may come to think they are not good/smart/strong/fast enough. This applies to children of all ages.
We want to set the child up for success. We want to support and challenge the child. Not too easy, not too hard!
Above Otto is putting the peg into the hedgehog, below the peg is not going in as he has the peg the wrong way around. He has to use his fine motor and problem-solving skills to make it work. Not too easy as he doesn't get it right all the time. Not too hard - he has some success, he has confidence that he can do it and will persist.
I love the circular economy, especially with toys. If we receive a gift or order a toy that isn't suitable we donate it straight away, so perhaps another family can use it. I donate to the same store every time so hopefully, it will attract like-minded families. Loaning/lendings toys to friends is also a fantastic idea, even if it's just to try out toys to see if it is a good fit!
- Sequencing in Montessori by John Bowman (this can apply at home too).
- Why young children like to do the same activities each day at Montessori Aotearoa.
- "I define “hitting the material sweet spot” as choosing a material/activity that not only matches your child’s developmental needs, but also challenges him while ultimately leading to success. A material that hits the sweet spot will usually engage the child, encourage repetition and lead to concentration." Hitting the material sweet spot at Nduoma.
- Why is Isolation of Difficulty Important in a Montessori Classroom? at Chesapeake Montessori School.