I went to Montessori school from preschool through sixth grade, and seeing as I turned out okay, I am a Montessori devotee. There is a lot of confusion about Montessori philosophy out there, and for anyone interested I would highly recommend reading Montessori from the Start. In my experience, I've found that people erroneously lump Montessori schools together with other 'alternative' schools, or with Waldorf schools. Montessori philosophy, in its true form, is about helping the child to become an independent being. It is not about forcing independence on the child before she is ready, nor is it an indulgent practice where the adult bends to every whim of the child, nor do children not learn reading and math in Montessori schools. I'm not sure where these ideas about Montessori philosophy came from, but I hear them frequently, and they are untrue.
|Looking at Panda. Montessori also advocates giving the child things to look at and interact with that represent the real world. The panda card is an example of what to do, the quilt J is laying on is an example of what not to do.|
The first mobile presented to the infant is the Munari mobile (mentioned here). I got all of my mobiles from etsy and they came with all of the components, but needed to be assembled. Set aside
|J at about 3 weeks old|
|At a little older|
|At 6 weeks|
At about eight weeks I reintroduced the Munari mobile. The really cool thing was that she finally noticed the clear sphere in the mobile, and I could see in practice why you are supposed to rotate and reintroduce the mobiles about every two weeks: after some time away from a mobile, Juniper seems to notice new things when she sees it again.
Just last week I tried out the Gobbi mobile, which is five thread wrapped orbs that go in a gradual gradient from light to dark, and she was not into it at all. Either it wasn't super interesting to her, or she couldn't see it very well, so I took it away for a few days. I was floored when I tried again just three or four days later. She loved it. Like, I've not seen her so into something ever really. For a solid 30 minutes she just stared at it, babbled at it, breathed excitedly at it, and when I thought she was kind of done and picked her up, she squawked at me until I put her down where she could see it again.
The mirror that you see in the photos is a pretty key component as well because it enables Juniper to see the mobiles while she is on her belly in addition to allowing her to track her own movements.
Obviously I have no way of knowing how much the mobiles have impacted her, and I won't ever know if they made a difference in her development, but I do know that she is really alert and will focus on our faces or on her mobiles for a pretty long time.
In addition to encouraging focus and attention, the mobiles also expose the infant to geometric forms and to aesthetic ideas such as balance and color gradients. I like that she is looking at things that are beautiful and well-designed as opposed to looking at plastic toys dangling from a play gym.