Preparing the Infant/Toddler Environment: Modern Montessori Materials for 0 to 2 Years Old
Montessori materials have evolved over time. In fact, many of Dr. Montessori’s first materials were originally created by her mentor, Edouard Séguin, when he was working with children developmental disabilities. Montessori saw the value in Séguin’s materials and modified them for use with children in her schools.
Montessori was a scientist who employed the scientific method of observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and revision. She carefully observed the children in her care and, based on her findings, developed and modified materials according to the children’s developmental needs.
According to Angeline Lillard, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, there are two schools of thought about the Montessori method: the traditional approach and the modified Montessori approach (Lillard, 2008). Those who follow the traditional Montessori approach only use materials personally used and developed by Dr. Montessori herself. Those who adapt a modified Montessori approach carefully observe the children around them and, just like Dr. Montessori, they add materials that are beautiful, natural, and most importantly,developmentally appropriate.
If you do choose to bring in additional materials into your Montessori infant/toddler environment, it is important to remember that Dr. Montessori developed her materials to serve both a direct and indirect purpose. For example, the stacking rings in the first photo directly prepare the child to develop hand-eye coordination as well as color recognition. Indirectly, the rings prepare the child to sort by graduated size, a mathematical and scientific skill.
Another matter to consider when selecting new materials is whether the material fulfills the infant’s need to develop movement and sensory awareness. Also, is it made of natural materials? Is it beautiful? Does it call the child to use it repeatedly? Most importantly, does it serve a real and true purpose?
Choosing to bring alternative or modified materials into your Montessori environment will be up to you and your school. However, whether teachers prefer a traditional or modified Montessori approach, they can all agree on the importance of preparing the infant/toddler environment with materials that are answer the children’s needs.
All Educational Toy Photos care of Amazon.com
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, July 19, 2013.