A Montessori approach to Toddler Creativity

If you have ever had a toddler in your home you will well know how quick they are to spot a ball point pen with the lid conveniently off, and head straight to the sofa. Or floor. Or white wall. It’s almost as though the pen and the clean, fresh surface are somehow magnetically attracted and the child is merely the messenger!

In our home, we’ve always been keen for the children to explore with their creative side, but of course, keeping to the page is a challenge for our 21-month old artist. Freedom within creative arts is full of benefits across the board. It increases concentration, refines fine and gross motor skills, hones the pincer grip – the one you need for a lifetime of writing ahead. It sharpens the eyesight and attention to detail and feeds the imagination. It can seem daunting to let small children loose with arts materials with no fixed end in sight, no lines to aim for, no specific pattern to follow, however as Maria Montessori once said, “The human hand allows the mind to reveal itself.” This freedom can bring us closer to really understanding who our children are and how they think.

Here are a few tips to nurture your toddler’s creativity:

  1. Go big with the paper.
    I recommend an A3 or A2 sheet of paper, on the floor or taped against a wall or window so that the little one can really stretch to use the space. I also like to have the pages as part of a pad as this keeps all the sheets together rather than flying around everywhere, which inevitably happens during the artist’s process! A blank page is incredibly attractive to a child, and without restriction it allows him to come back and revisit his work, add other forms of media to it, or makes for a perfectly finished large piece for you to frame and hang in the hallway.
  2. Colour coding and materials.
    By offering few but age-appropriate materials you allow the child to explore within his own reasonable limits. Glitter for my boy would be quite the disaster, but chunky pencils in colour coded cups are perfect for adding in some colour matching skills during the art session. Other great options for toddlers are stamp pens, stickers, large paint brushes with foam ends and felt tip markers. A Montessori approach to Toddler Creativity
  3. Stand back and watch. 
    One of the greatest hindrances for a child can be an interfering adult who has plans of their own about what the young child should produce, as applying meaning to work which is not yours takes away some of the joy for the little one. Once she has finished you can encourage her by stating facts rather than over praise – “You used red! I see you added green!” For the older child you can counteract the question of “Do you like it, mummy/daddy?” with “What is your favourite bit?” so they begin to think critically about their work, within their own frame of reference.

I hope some of these tips may encourage you to offer less but allow for more when it comes to creative work at home. Has your child found their groove in artwork yet?

Zainab x


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