Before getting pregnant I visualized my baby and what he or she might look like. I wanted them to be active learners with a critical mind. I began to research “old school parenting methods” and stumbled upon Montessori and RIE parenting. I resonated so deeply with the practices of raising emotionally healthy children with respect and viewing our children (even infants) as full and capable human beings. Some of the practices I have adopted are: intimate undivided attention, not trying to “fix” or pacify my baby’s cries but rather acknowledge them, avoiding praise, and not figuring out a problem for him. Now that Grant is to an age where toys can grip him, I have explored how to challenge and develop his mind with certain toys vs. pacify or entertain.
So what are Active Toys?
Those with batteries, a motor, an “on button,”or that wind-up. This is not to say Ipads and tablets don’t have their place. They have a remarkable pacifying effect. I do still use active toys (such as Spanish lessons on the Ipad), but I also try to balance Grant’s interactions with “passive” toys. Active toys might provide immediate entertainment, but the entertainment is shallow. As long as I know the difference, I feel okay about the occasional “active toy.” Active toys can teach children to be passive and to expect to be entertained. This would completely take away his beautiful creative mind and he wouldn’t be able to explore and engage.
Magda Gerber says about her recommended play objects – all passive toys: What do [they] have in common? None do anything. They will only respond when the infant activates them. In other words our active infant manipulates passive objects. In contrast, entertaining kinds of toys, such as mobiles or later on, windup toys, cause a passive infant to watch an active toy. This trains the child to expect to be amused and entertained, and sets the scene for later TV watching.
What are Passive Toys?
Passive toys don’t do anything. They don’t ring; they don’t light up when a button is pressed. In other words, they don’t play for the child. The child is free to do all the playing by himself. He develops coordination, motor skills, and concentration. Passive toys teach concepts like gravity, how things fit together, and cause and effect. The possibilities are endless. We aren’t then limiting our child to one method of playing, but rather empowering him to decide for himself. Our children are then encouraged to explore and engage.
Here are some suggestions for your children :
- Wooden Building Blocks
- Things that go together – Pincer and Palmar Blocks
- Stacking toys
- Manipulative baby toys – Skwish, Wooden Beads, Pop Up Toy
- Instruments – drum, shakers, rhythm sticks