Any parent of a 3-year-old will tell you that they often think they’re unstoppable at this age.
At the age of 3, children have almost mastered motor skills, meaning you’ll see them running around, throwing things, kicking balls (and other objects they aren’t supposed to), and moving their limbs in every other way possible.
Three-year-olds also love showing off their newly advanced language skills. If your child is not very talkative, that will change soon. They have a vocabulary of a few hundred words and will find an opportunity to use every single one of them every day. What a great time for them to start preschool, or even better, a Montessori education.
The most popular time to introduce your children to the Montessori method is between the ages of 2 ½ and six years old, so the age of 3 is the perfect time to start your child’s Montessori learning if you haven’t already. But their learning doesn’t have to begin the first day you drop them off at their new Montessori preschool. With the help of some toys, you can get a head start and introduce your child to Montessori at home. Keep reading to learn more about how Montessori can benefit your young child’s development and learn how to choose the best Montessori toys for 3 year olds to help them stay in control of their learning.
Reasons to Start Your 3 Year Old On Montessori
When parents start their child in Montessori depends on the parent and their child’s needs and capabilities. Some parents decide to start their children’s Montessori journey at home in infancy, while others choose to enroll their children in a Montessori school at the age of 6
There is a happy medium between infants and 6-year-olds, of course, and that’s 3-year-olds. The age of 3 is probably the best time to start your child in Montessori if you hadn’t already. If you’re hesitant to start your child with Montessori, there are several reasons that you should consider it.
A 3-year-old’s ability to absorb information from their environment continues to be strong at this age, so it’s a great idea to take advantage of this time and test out Montessori to see if this style of learning is a good fit for them.
To start your child on Montessori learning, you don’t have to enroll them in preschool tomorrow. You can easily introduce Montessori into your home by having your child do certain activities or with the help of some specific toys.
Before we jump into what makes Montessori toys ideal to help your child self-direct their learning, let’s discuss what makes a toy a Montessori toy.
Difference Between Montessori and Learning Toys
Every toy you give your child is indeed an opportunity for them to learn about themselves and the world around them, especially at the age of 3. That said, the approach to learning that Montessori toys take is unique.
In general, a learning toy is a marketing term used to describe any toy that seems educational to your child. You’ll notice that any toy that features letters and numbers is classified as a learning toy, but that does not mean that these toys will help develop your child’s learning.
Even though there isn’t a specific type of toy that owns the label Montessori toy, the toys that fit into this philosophy direct learning towards specific goals. Maria Montessori believed that children learn best when exploring concepts independently and in isolation from other concepts. Therefore, rather than presenting abstract concepts the way that self-proclaimed learning toys do, Montessori presents concrete concepts to encourage your child to develop their understanding of the world.
Montessori toys must follow these basic principles:
- They must be simple, meaning no decorative elements that don’t serve a purpose.
- They must promote independence.
- They must prove to be functional.
- They must focus on developing a single skill (at a time).
- They should preferably be made from natural materials instead of plastic.
Keeping these basic principles in mind will help you understand how to choose the right Montessori toys for your 3-year-old.
Now that you know what makes Montessori toys unique, you can start choosing the best ones to jumpstart or continue your child’s learning.
Best Montessori Toys for 3-Year-Olds
By the age of 3, it seems like your child has endless options to choose from when it comes to toys. Well, that’s true even with Montessori toys. Three-year-olds have a lot to work with both intellect and personality-wise, so it could be difficult figuring out which toys are the best fit for your child.
Well, you’ve come to the right place. To help you out, here are the best Montessori toys for 3-year-olds to help them gain confidence in their learning and understanding of the world.
Oh, and after viewing this list of a few of our favorites, don’t miss our carefully crafted Montessori Gift Guide for 3-year-olds!
These knobbed cylinders are an effective Montessori toy to start your child off with. This wooden toy cultivates your 3-year-old’s visual sensitivity by helping them learn to distinguish between the size and height of the cylinders.
Your child will compare and sort the wooden posts by color and by size. This will help:
- Stimulate their early vision.
- Improve their tactile sense.
- Work on their independent thinking.
The set can be broken down into several different components, giving your child a lot to work with. The knobs of this set are easy for your child to grasp, and the entire box is lightweight, perfect for them to move around if they feel like it. After all, it is their toy.
At 3, your child wants to help you do everything around the house. This is a great time to begin encouraging them to do practical life activities.
If your toddler tries to steal the broom away from you as you sweep, get them their own little broom and other cleaning toys, like this set of pretend cleaning tools from Melissa & Doug.
This six-piece set looks realistic and gives your child all of the tools they need to keep the house clean. The broom and hand brush both have soft bristles, and the dustpan easily snaps into all of the handles.
This set encourages your 3-year-old to develop confidence and responsibility. Once you give them this set, you’ll be surprised to see how quickly they understand the function of each piece, and they’ll be cleaning alongside you before you know it.
The age of 3 is a great time to start getting your child familiar with reading. Although it’s a little early to pick up a novel and have them follow along, Montessori encourages other simple activities to help your child learn the basics of reading.
This popular activity is one that your 3-year-old is likely to encounter in preschool. Sandpaper letters are a greater way to start teaching your child the alphabet. They’re simple to use and involve many of your child’s senses, including:
The goal of this activity is for your child to trace the letters with their fingers to create muscle memory. They should learn to associate the sounds with the shapes, which is the introduction to the alphabet and the sounds that each letter makes.
There are many options out there for buying sandpaper letters, but these from Elite Montessori are of great quality and include both lower and capital case letters, which will further help with your 3-year-old’s development.
Montessori toys should inherently help your child work on one skill at a time. However, some of the best Montessori toys are versatile and contain multiple different functions for your child to discover. The popular wooden balance board from The Little Dove is the perfect example of one of those toys, and it is perfect for 3-year-olds.
This wooden board is not only versatile, but it’s also functional while remaining one of the simplest toys your child will own. The curved board will teach your child different movements and how to apply an object to different scenarios in everyday life. Other than being a balance board, your child can use it for several other purposes, including:
- As a small slide
- A seesaw for two
- Flipped over to become a tunnel
- As a table on the floor
- A stepping stone to reach something on the dresser
- A rocking lounge chair
- A bridge during playtime
The benefits of this board don’t just stop at its versatility. As it is primarily a balance board, it also helps them control their balance, coordination, and eye movements. This wooden board also supports the muscles that are responsible for your child’s correct posture.
With so many uses, this wooden balance board will keep your child’s mind working for years to come. If you don’t have one already, consider making this toy their introduction to Montessori learning.
This magnetic fishing game from Coogam is simple yet offers your child a creative way to learn. Made of high-quality wood, this game is challenging enough to keep your child thinking but simple enough to help them build confidence in their abilities.
This game is a great teaching tool to help develop your child’s hand-eye coordination, as well as other fine motor skills and problem-solving skills. To play, your child has to find the fish that matches the color and letter using a wooden fishing pole. Magnets allow your child to easily pick the fish up.
Each fish is labeled with a letter, so it also helps with letter recognition, making it a great game for early educational development.
Finding the Perfect Montessori Toys for 3-Year-Olds
In all, only you can decide when is the best time to start your child’s education, and whether Montessori is the right fit for them.
In general, age 3 is a great time to begin considering your child’s education and is a popular age to enroll children in a school that follows the Montessori philosophy. However, if you want to get an idea of what this type of learning is like for little ones, starting them with some favorite Montessori toys is a great way to transition from home to the classroom.
These toys will encourage your child to take charge of their learning and even get them excited about learning.
Don’t forget to check out our Montessori Gift Guide for 3-year-olds!