One of the hardest areas to declutter can be your children's toy closet. Does that beeping, singing firetruck spark joy for you? Well no, in fact, it might be the most frustrating toy, but then again, having an occupied, entertained child sparks more joy than all of your household items combined.
So do more toys really mean a more engaged child? Studies say no. Having fewer toys leads to a more ordered home and encourages your child to develop creativity, concentration and a sense of responsibility for taking care of their belongings. But how do you go about reducing the number of toys your child has when there are so many "must haves" on the market? Perhaps more importantly, how do you ensure you don't bring any more toys that will be quickly forgotten into your home?
The secret: Look for toys that are open-ended, toys that will last for years, toys that encourage creativity, and toys that benefit development.
Here are some of our favorite Montessori-inspired toys.
Toys that are open-ended, rather than have just one use, empower your child to be an active participant in their own play. An example of an open-ended toy is a set of blocks, while a more limited use toy might be a talking toy robot. Blocks are only fun if your child applies their own creative thinking skills to make them fun, while the robot is a much more passive type of entertainment.
Open-ended toys also tend to keep children's interest for much longer, as they grow with your child—as their skills develop, they can build increasingly complex structures and scenarios.
There are so many beautiful sets of blocks available, but here are a few good choices.
2. Duplo Lego
Beginning in early toddlerhood, many children begin to incorporate pretend play into their repertoire. They do this all on their own, without the aid of toys, turning mud into pies and sticks into hammers.
Still, these toys will encourage their budding imaginations and also allow them to process things they experience in their own lives through role-playing and pretend play.
7. Train set
Music provides a great deal of joy to most children, and can also aid in brain development.
Providing regular opportunities for your young child to both create and listen to music will encourage him to develop an appreciation for music, an understanding of rhythm, and an outlet for creative expression.
Giving young children opportunities for movement is so important, both for their gross motor development and for giving them a daily outlet for their boundless energy. Children who spend plenty of time running around generally sleep better and are often better able to concentrate on quieter activities like reading.
Encouraging plenty of unstructured time outside is the best way to ensure your child gets enough daily movement. These toys though can help your child develop muscle coordination and strength, while also providing plenty of fun.
10. Balance bike
11. Pedal bike
Puzzles are wonderful toys for helping children develop spatial understanding, problem-solving skills, resilience and new vocabulary. Bonus, they also provide a quiet activity that can engage even young children for an extended period of time!
15. Peg puzzles
17. Layered puzzles
Games encourage your child to develop social skills such as taking turns and winning and losing gracefully.
Many games for young children also have educational benefits such as building memory or practicing counting.
18. Memory game
Taking the plunge and reducing your children's toy collection can be scary. If you're uncertain whether your child will miss a certain toy, try putting it away in a closet for a month to see if they notice. Take some time to observe your child with their reduced toy collection and notice how their play changes.
Once you commit to fewer toys, you'll find you can truly be intentional with what you provide your child and can also choose higher quality toys when you're only purchasing a few. There will also be far fewer little objects strewn around the house to trip over, which is a huge bonus!
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