Written by: Heather White
As members of our community, it is likely that you have adopted a Montessori way of life in some capacity and are attempting to implement the philosophy in many areas of your home, including introducing more aligned activities to your child. It is important to note that even if you receive gifts that are not aligned and you wish to use them in your home, that is totally fine and acceptable and you can create a space and time for them too! Doesn’t make you any less Montessori.
We also recognize that not all of your friends and family will also follow or understand Montessori and this may lead to receiving gifts that are not aligned. As many of you have asked, what should be done with those activities?
Model Grace & Courtesy
First, and perhaps foremost, this situation provides a wonderful opportunity to model one of the key Montessori principles of Grace & Courtesy. Not everyone will understand or listen to the types of toys Montessori parents are requesting as gifts for their child. There are going to be activities others think are useful for your child and that is okay.. Be gracious with them. Model accepting the gift with gratitude and decides later what should be done with it. This practice of kindness and appreciation will set an impactful example for your child.
If you feel you are the type that likes to be proactive then maybe having a conversation with friends and family members about the core principles of Montessori, why you have chosen it as your preferred parenting style, and why it matters to you may help them understand and appreciate your gift requests. Here are a few resources that may be helpful when introducing Montessori to your friends and family.
- Montessori in 5 Minutes Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvKdWI6r5mI
- The Battle of the In-Laws (*can substitute with other friends or family members): https://www.guideandgrow.com/the-battle-of-the-in-laws/
A wish list can also be a wonderful resource as it helps guide friends and family in knowing items your child may enjoy or that you would prefer to receive for them. With such busy lives, wish lists can help remove the stress and work of finding the perfect gift. You may even choose to share our Amazon shop links with friends and family as a great resource for a list of aligned gift ideas!
- https://www.amazon.com/shop/guideandgrow (Affiliate link)
Here are some specific ideas of what can be done with gifts your child receives that are unaligned.
- Keep these toys and bring them out as special activities for when the gift giver or other special guests visit. You may also bring them out when the child’s friends come over for a play date.
- Ask to keep these toys at a grandparent or other family member’s house as a fun activity when visiting.
- Keep these toys and bring them out as a special activity when a child isn’t feeling well.
- Involve your child in donating the unwanted toys to a good cause like a local children’s home, a children’s hospital ward, or a refuge center for parents and children fleeing from domestic abuse.
- Investigate other ways a toy may be used such as if one element is isolated or the batteries are removed.
In closing, it is important to mention that Montessori is more than the materials. How you choose to parent is far more impactful than the toys with which your child plays. There is no harm in allowing your child to play with unaligned activities, especially if they show an interest and are engaged. After all, one of the key principles of Montessori philosophy is following the child.
If you are struggling to identify your child’s interests, this post about observation and following the child may be helpful for you.