I started to see more and more wall panels in Montessori shops. I knew a school in my city that made a ‘montessori room’ – room just full of the different wall panels. Many parents are excited about it. They have no knowledge about what Montessori is and, of course, start to think that this is how it looks. One family even came to my class ones, after visiting this room, and they were doubted, they were unsure if we are really Montessori because we don’t have these panels and class is just different…
So, what is “Montessori wall panel” or “modular equipment”? This is a wooden panel suitable for wall mounting designed for different purposes, such as sensorial development or preparing hand for writing and so on. Let’s look at them:
1. Module for the development of the wrist (beads moving along the wire)
2. Module for the development of tactile sensation (different tactile stimulation)
3. Module for the development of stereognosic sense (some tactile stimulation)
4. Module for the development of the wrist (handle moving along the slot)
5. Module with six doors and locks (opening different locks)
6. Module for color matching (colors, color matching, sorting. Rotating six-color cylinders and cubes)
7. Module with geometric solids and mirrors
8. Module for the development of fine motor skills with clothespins and hooks
9. Module with laces
I will not lie, I don’t really understand how some of them work and I don’t even want to understand.
Well-known Montessori manufacturers sell them and they are not cheap. They write different descriptions about how good they are for the development of the child. But do they really are?
I want to write my thoughts about them:
– I don’t like them at all;
– To my mind, they were designed for making money only;
– Many schools like to use them to attract clients because modules look unusual;
– That is total overstimulation – there are too many colors, too many things, too much tactile stimulation. How can the child discriminate his feelings?
– CAN you imagine so many functions in one? One module suggests a child so many things, so many tasks. They write, for example, that child will progress in locking module from one lock to another, but how do the child know where to begin? The child will not start learning one and then go to another, he will lock and unlock all of them. They can puzzle the child;
– I don’t understand how can one have a concentration in the room full of such modules. Even if there is one module, child can’t concentrate on one task, because there are several of them;
– They ruin the general opinion about the Montessori method by giving the wrong information. Lots of people are misunderstanding the Montessori ideas;
– Why do they call them Montessori wall panels?? They do not correspond even to the fundamental principles of the method. Would Maria Montessori like them?
That’s how I see child working with them – he moves to one, start something, then another attracts him and he start working with it, And in this way moving here and there with no concentration at only one.
I approve only two things, I think we can refer them to the wall equipment.
First – big wooden gears. These are two wooden rotating gears, big and small. I like them for having only one function – rotating, It is good because the child holds it with both hands and both of his hands are moving simultaneously. Plus one hand does big rotating movements and other small. This is very good for brain development and coordinating the work of left and right brain parts.
Second is a ball ramp. It is a ball rolling along the ramp. One more time – only one function. It is good for coordination, attention; the child learns to follow the object with his eyes. It is called Takane tracker. It is an approved AMI Montessori material for toddler classrooms.
I don’t know maybe some of these modules can be used in Montessori therapy, but I am not sure because I have not enough knowledge about it. Also, once in the discussion, a lady proposed using them in doctor’s waiting rooms.
It is very interesting and important topic for me. What do you think? I appreciate any view. Please share and write your opinions in comments.