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Ask Zahra: How do I get my child to play the correct way?

Dear Zahra, How do I get my child more interested in playing with the toys the correct way? He plays with the toys the wrong way and gets irritated when I try and show him the right way and then he stops all together. Is there anything I can do to get him more interested in playing with the toys the correct way or should I just let him play with him the way he wants? Another question is if he has mastered the toys by the two-week time frame should I stay with a toy until he has mastered it? Thank you in advance for answering my questions.

Dear C.B.,
I’m glad to hear that your son is enjoying his toys and it’s actually a great thing that he’s playing with them in his own way. This means that he is learning as he experiments, makes mistakes, and figures out the toy on his own. We have a saying in Montessori that if you give a child a toy and they do it the “right way” the first time – that means we actually waited too long to introduce that toy. If a child does it “correctly” right away, then they don’t have as many opportunities to learn from their play. All the magic happens in the process of them figuring it out 🙂 So no need to worry.
It’s also very normal that when we try and “correct” their play that they will stop playing altogether. So I would refrain from correcting. I know that’s hard! Dr. Maria Montessori used to advise teachers to sit on their hands so they would resist the urge to jump in and correct or help a child. The learning is so much more powerful when they figure it out on their own. Maybe once per day, you can just casually ask for a turn to play and your baby can observe the way you do it (just like the video demo) – this will help him learn without feeling like he is being corrected or doing it wrong. The key to this is being very calm and not anxious for your baby to learn the right way because they can pick up on that feeling and it can put them off. Rather, it’s just about asking for a turn because you’d love to play too 🙂 If your baby does not like to give you a turn, you can just play with the toy when he’s not using it so he has the opportunity to see how you do it.
As for your other question, there is no rush for your child to master one toy before moving onto the next. The process of mastering a toy can take many weeks or months. Sometimes he will lose interest in the toy altogether and not touch it for a week. You can put it in the closet and bring it out a week later, show it to him again, and that’s when he might master it. So keep moving through the program introducing new toys. And please do not hesitate to reach out with more questions. We love supporting our Monti Kids families!

We want to answer your questions or anything you’re just curious about around Montessori materials, Monti Kids, or your child’s development. Email us at [email protected] and our founder / Montessori & Child Development expert Zahra Kassam will answer!

To learn more about the Montessori method, download our free ebook, 7 Easy Ways to Support Your Baby’s Learning.

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