Montessori playrooms, homes, and classrooms are just sparser than their mainstream counterparts. It’s an easy difference to see and one that makes a HUGE difference to a child. But, seriously, why is having too many toys a problem in a Montessori home?
Well, there are a few reasons. Any number of these reasons is reason enough to take a hard look at how many toys you have out and whether it’s working for your children.
One, a room full of toys is overwhelming to a child, especially a baby or toddler. It can be difficult to choose anything to play with when there are so many choices. So, what value is there to the child if the child is unable to actually use it? I think many of us have experienced a child walking into a playroom, sifting around for a bit and then claiming to be bored.
Before Montessori, I would see my child do this and assume his boredom meant he didn’t like what we had. So, I would buy another toy, gadget, or container. It never once occurred to me that he may just be completely overwhelmed by the choices.
Related to this, what fun is it to play with a puzzle, if you have to search for the pieces first? Or if the parts to the stacker are at the bottom of the toy box. It’s almost physically impossible for a young child to focus on one activity if they have to gather everything from a crowded room or bin.
Next, rooms full of toys can disrupt a child’s sense of order. The sensitive period for order starts at birth and continues until between age 5 to 6. It peaks somewhere between 18 months and 2.5. When we have things everywhere, children are unable to maintain the natural order they crave so much. Without this order, they can seem sort of lost.
When that sense of order is disrupted, so is their concentration, and independence. This sense of order produces a natural happiness for children. It helps them to orient themselves in their environment, it literally stitches together the entire environment and their own relationship within it.
Now, I’m not saying that Montessori will cure all of these issues and your kids are going to magically start cleaning everything up, but it has made a huge difference. When there is a place for everything and everything in its place, it really is so much easier for everyone to maintain that order. And so many of those struggles disappear.
Finally, it’s usually just not beautiful. I know my playroom wasn’t before Montessori. It was dread. It was stuff thrown everywhere in bins, along the walls, on the floors. It would get so messy Henry couldn’t walk. You couldn’t find pieces, toys randomly started making noises, I got foot injuries from stepping on the junk. This is a clear issue.
When toys are everywhere, it doesn’t call to the child. It doesn’t suck the child in. It doesn’t invite the child to work. All of which is so so important for you and the child. And if it isn’t beautiful, then you know it’s not working.
And, the solution, is to get rid of those toys!