Choosing to parent and teach your children using the Montessori method is a great gift to give to your child. There are many different Montessori toys to help children grow, and many people wonder if the Pikler Triangle is aligned with Montessori principles.
While the Pikler Triangle is not overtly Montessori aligned, it does have Montessori aspects that, if used correctly, can give your child many of the same learning opportunities that Montessori toys do. Pikler Triangles give children opportunities to use and develop their motor skills.
Now, let’s take a step back and look at what exactly a Pikler Triangle is. Once we understand its function and purpose, you’ll be able to choose for yourself if you want to incorporate this into your Montessori teaching practices.
What Is a Pikler Triangle?
The Pikler Triangle is a type of play object that allows children to climb on and around it. It offers children a place to safely explore and learn how to climb. They also learn how to balance and slide. This is a toy that grows with your children and can continue to be used by children between the age of 6 months to 6 years.
Why is it called the “Pikler Triangle”?
The Pikler Triangle gets its name from the creator, Dr. Emmi Pikler who is a Hungarian Pediatrician. Dr. Pikler wanted to create a play area that allows children to safely grow and develop their gross motor skills. She was a pediatrician who was also an activist for parenting and raising children with strong relationships. She ran an orphanage, which is where she first introduced the Pikler Triangle.
Dr. Pikler not only created innovative toys to help children develop on their own, but she also created her own theory for parenting and raising children. The Emmi Pikler Theory involves a series of ideas and practices to help parents and caregivers create a deep relationship with their infant while allowing the infant to learn and grow on their own.
Many of Dr. Pikler’s ideas and practices align with the Montessori practices. For example, she believes that parents should not attempt to entertain their babies all the time. Babies should have uninterrupted playtime to learn and grow on their own. She also believes that parents should make a special effort to slow down and make changing, feeding, and other activities enjoyable for both parties. She believes this creates a stronger bond between parent and child while teaching the child that they can trust this person.
Please note that there is only one U.S. company, RAD toys, that is certified by the Pikler organization to make Pikler® Triangles.
What Are the Parts of the Pikler Triangle?
The Pikler Triangle is a play toy that comes in different parts. Each part of the Pikler Triangle can be used for different stages of the child’s life and each has a specific purpose. If you are interested in purchasing a Pikler Triangle for your child(ren) to play with, it is important to look at the different sets to figure out what you want. Some companies sell separate parts while others sell them in a set. It is a good idea to decide what pieces you will use the most before going into this purchase.
While reading through these accessories, if you are having difficulty picturing them, refer to this youtube video of a mom sharing her experience of the Pikler Triangle.
The Pikler Triangle
This is the basic piece of the Pikler Triangle: it is a wooden triangle-shaped climbing toy for children to use. There are rungs on both sides of the structure to allow children many different ways to play.
For an infant, the Pikler Triangle can be used to help the baby learn how to pull themselves up using the rungs. You can also place the structure over the infant while laying on their back. You can hang toys and sensory objects from the rungs to use as a play gym.
As your child begins to learn how to stand, using the Pikler Triangle as a stabilizer helps to teach children that they can do it on their own. The rungs are all at different levels, which allows infants to learn at the level they need to hold onto to stabilize themselves.
When your child has progressed into the toddler years, they can use the rungs on either side to learn how to climb upwards. This is a very important stage for children to develop. Using the Pikler Triangle, your child will also learn their own limits on how high they can climb. Additionally, they will begin to learn how to climb back down. This can be hard for children to learn and can cause fear in many children. The Pikler Triangle gives your child a safe place to test their limits and learn on their own.
Now that your child can successfully climb up and down one side of the Pikler Triangle, they can begin to learn how to climb up one side, turn around, and climb down the opposite side. This is a huge developmental learning stage that the Pikler Triangle has helped your child learn. They learn how to balance and use their body to get them to where they want to go. They have also learned how to position and move their bodies to accomplish what they want to.
Aside from simply climbing, the Pikler Triangle can also be used in make-believe play for your child. This can easily be turned into a fort (throw a blanket on top) to be used in so many different ways for your child. This can also be used for a puppet show, or as a make-believe restaurant. This structure can teach your child gross motor skills while teaching them creativity and how to play/learn.
As Pikler Triangles are becoming more popular in the home and the classroom, many different companies are beginning to come out with their own versions of it. If you are interested in purchasing a Pikler Triangle, you should know that some are very short. While these are good for infants and young children, they do not grow as well with children as the larger triangles do.
A good rule to keep in mind is to get one that is at least 30 inches high. If you are purchasing two triangles (which is very helpful for some of the other accessories), you can get a shorter one and a taller one. That way, you can get the best of both worlds.
A flat wooden slide is the most common accessory for the Pikler Triangle. This is a wood plank that on one side has rungs while the other is smooth. Similar to the base, this accessory for the Pikler Triangle can be used in many different ways to help your children learn and develop.
When your child is strong enough to sit up on their own, it can be a fun bonding experience between parent and child to set the slide on the lowest rung and help the infant slowly slide down. This helps your child stabilize their core and learn how to hold themselves up while they are moving. It is vital children strengthen their core before they can walk.
As your child grows and strengthens their core, they can begin to slide down on their own. Around this stage, your child will most likely be crawling, allowing your child to crawl up the slide while on its lowest rung and teach your infant how to use their body strength to get where they want to go. This is a way to help your little one become a better crawler.
When your child has reached the toddler stage and is successfully walking, you can introduce the ladder side of this accessory. Setting it up on the Pikler Triangle gives your child the opportunity to learn how to balance and use both arms and legs to climb on a ladder.
If you have two Pikler Triangles, you can balance the slide (smooth) side of the accessory between the two Pikler Triangles to help your child learn how to walk, balancing on a wide “balance beam.” If you do this, make sure you are helping your child until they become very confident in their abilities. You should still be able to keep an eye on them at all times.
Using the slide accessory is a great opportunity for children to learn how to balance themselves and other objects on the incline. Your child can begin to learn about how gravity works by running toy cars down the slide. This a great stage of learning growth that can be enhanced with the Pikler Triangle.
It is important to note that this accessory can be moved and placed at whatever incline is best for your child and their intent with the toy. Adaptability helps the toy last longer through the many different developmental stages of your child.
Rock Climbing/ Slide
Similar to the previously mentioned accessory, the Rock Climbing/ Slide accessory holds the same benefits as the slide part. The slide can be used for many different things through different developmental stages. The difference between the Ladder/ Slide and the Rock Climbing/ Slide is the opposite side. This accessory has one side that has faux rocks attached.
Having the Rock Climbing accessory allows children to learn how to pull themselves upwards or forwards on something other than rungs/ ladder handles. This is very helpful for children to strengthen their grip and arm strength to help pull them upwards.
Along with strengthening, the Rock Climbing accessory also teaches balancing techniques. This helps your child to know how to move and hold their body to balance themselves while attempting to continue moving forward.
Many different companies sell Pikler Triangles and many have different or more accessory options. The options described above are just a few of the most common accessories.
Is the Pikler Triangle Worth It?
After getting this far into the article, we hope that you already know the answer, YES! This is a great toy to use both in the home and the classroom to promote self-learning and gross motor skills. This is a toy that as mentioned previously, will grow with the child. As you have seen from the different parts of the Pikler Triangle, each accessory and base can be used to help your child learn and grown at different developmental stages. While the upfront cost may be a bit high, it is important to think about how much this will offer your child or children to come.
Choosing the Montessori method can be challenging for parents and teachers because it requires a more flexible approach to learning. However, it is a great method that can help you make sure you are giving your child every opportunity for them to grow and develop into the greatest person they can be.
Is It Dangerous?
All climbing structures have a certain danger level to them, but if that is going to deter you, you have to know your child will still be climbing on other furniture structures of your house. While your child is playing on the Pikler Triangle, you should always keep an eye on them to ensure their safety.
This structure is very sturdy and will hold your child while they are playing and climbing on it. To make this safer, some parents purchase a cushioned mat to place the structure on top of it. This helps to protect the child from any falls.
Does it Promote Climbing?
Many parents are worried about promoting climbing habits in their children. After reading through many mom’s experiences with the Pikler Triangle and hearing firsthand experience, the overall consensus is that your child will want to climb no matter what toys you offer them.
Think about how many times your child has climbed up a couch, chair, bed, or even out of/ into a crib. This toy allows you to tell them they are not allowed to climb the furniture of the house, but they are allowed to climb on their Pikler Triangle. This teaches children they are allowed to explore climbing, but they need to use the correct time and space.
Is it Montessori Aligned?
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Pikler Triangle is not overtly Montessori, but it follows many of the same principles that Montessori toys do. If used correctly, the Pikler Triangle can give your child the same opportunities and can help your child learn and develop on their own. This toy helps to promote a love of learning and experiencing new things in children.