This student brings up an excellent point, not just for infants and toddlers, but for children of all ages and stages. Dr. Montessori taught us that there are sensitive periods for learning. That is, at certain periods of time, children are most receptive to certain concepts.
Once that sensitive period has passed, it is almost as if a window for opportunity has been shut. For example, if a child learns to walk before crawling, it is very difficult to go back and teach him how to crawl. That sensitive period is over.
Missed Sensitive Periods and Missed Opportunities? Montessori Educators Follow the Child
The Montessori mobiles are designed to strengthen the vision of infants and are presented before the infant can reach out to grab them. For a two year old, the sensitive period for the purpose of these mobiles has passed. That is not to say you cannot use mobiles in the environment to stimulate and develop focus. There are some lovely mobiles that can be used in the Montessori environment for many years to come.
When thinking about returning and reviewing activities you may have missed, consider the sensitive period the child is in at the moment. He may have already outgrown some of the infant activities. That’s okay! What you can do is try presenting some of the activities and see how he responds. If he is interested and focused, continue to encourage him to work with those materials. If he seems uninterested or moves ahead, using the materials for something else, follow his lead. The most important thing to remember is not to hold him back if he is developmentally able and ready to move ahead.
And do not feel bad if you miss some of the Montessori lessons and activities presented in the NAMC manuals. These are suggested activities, but by no means are they exhaustive. There will be plenty of opportunities and new experiences to explore and enjoy together. I can assure you that by omitting a few of the activities, you will not hurt the child’s development.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, June 18, 2013.