Have you ever questioned why we put a mirror in our baby’s room? It’s common to see a low mirror in Montessori nurseries, in Nidos and infant classes. In a Montessori room, the mirror is used so that the child can get to know himself and understand that he is a person distinct from his mother. Thus, by seeing himself, the child begins to recognize himself as an individual, helping in the development of autonomy and willpower.
But the reasons don’t stop there! Young children love the human face. For some biological reason even, it is something that pleases them. So being able to see a human face at any time is always a good thing.
In addition, it is important for the baby to recognise its own face, to identify its expressions as well as the possibilities of movement of its face and body. This does not happen consciously, it is a process… And there is no need to rush! Respecting the time of each child is one of the premises of the Montessori method. The child’s time is internal to him and our task is only to help. Little by little, you will notice how much fun baby will have with his own image in the mirror.
The importance of the Montessori Wall Mirror
Therefore, the Montessori room should be an environment specially prepared for the child, where everything needs to be thought of so that she is safe and free at the same time. Here are a few reasons we love the mirror:
- Promotes visual tracking.
- Promotes concentration – along with the mobiles you can see long periods of concentration in a very young child.
- Brings joy – often when you see a mirror in a store or even in the bathroom this will please the young infant, they may smile or may even laugh. Babies often love to look at faces, including their own.
- Promotes independent play – the child is not reliant on an adult to entertain them.
- Promotes free movement – encourages parents to spend more time with the child in the movement area, gives the child more time to move and get to know their body. Can also encourage the child during tummy time.
- Promotes coordinated movement – Baby observes himself in the mirror and then reacts, he may at this age not know it is himself in the mirror but he is beginning to make connections. He sees his leg go up in the mirror, then he puts it down and then up again.
- Allows the child to view the rest of their/the room and over time allows them to visually map the room, this is especially beneficial for infants that are not able to move or crawl.
The children’s mirror doesn’t have to be in the infant’s room. Place it where it is convenient and where it will be used, a small space in the living area may work well. Put a playmat or soft folded blanket next to the mirror, We recommend not making it too soft (like a mattress) if you are going to use the area for tummy time.
“The mirror that we attach to the baby’s wall next to the child-bed further enhances her sight by showing a different or “mirror” image of the room. The baby also sees her own image reflected and begins to connect her movements with the reflected movements of the child in the mirror. Thus she discovers that there are more faces to examine than just her mother’s at feeding time. Eventually, she sees other reflected in the mirror as they enter the room to play or talk with her. Encouraging the newborn to spend waking time on her stomach so that she can practice lifting her head makes these first visual experiences with wall mirror possible.” – Polk Lillard and Lillard Jessen in Montessori from the Start.
Pull-up bar and Mirror
If you follow the blog, surely you’ve already understood that the first step in setting up a Montessori environment is to adopt the child’s point of view. Everything must be at the height of his eyes, within reach of his hands, and the length of his legs. If you have the space a mirror with a pull-up bar is a good option. This is where two key pieces come into play in this special environment: the pull-up bar and the acrylic mirror.
The function of the bar fixed to the wall is to help the child to stand up (and then to make it easier for them to start walking) without depending on direct adult help. With its help, little by little, the child can get up on its own and move around according to its will, which contributes to motor development. A good tip is to hang objects on this bar in a spaced manner so that the child feels stimulated to reach it and, thus, try to walk.
The ideal bar is a fixed ballet-type one. A cheaper option are those that support curtains, as long as they are well attached at about 50 cm from the ground. Of course, the height may vary according to the height of your child, but, in general, this distance is well suited to the phase in which the baby begins to stand up.
The mirror should also accompany the child’s development. If it is a rectangular mirror, it can be installed horizontally while the baby is still crawling. Later, when the child begins to walk, the ideal is to place it vertically.
The Montessori room needs to be a safe environment that offers freedom to that child. So, to ensure the safety of the little ones, it is very important that this mirror is made of acrylic and is very well fixed to the wall. Some people choose to use an ordinary mirror, but well attached to a firm wooden board.
Babies quickly enter a phase in which they enjoy knocking objects against the mirror and then … Better not count on luck, right? That’s why, when it comes to children’s safety, we prefer not to take any risks, and so we recommend acrylic models.
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how we montessori. 2022. The importance of the Montessori Wall Mirror – and why you need one.. [online] Available at: <https://www.howwemontessori.com/how-we-montessori/2017/11/the-importance-of-the-montessori-wall-mirror-and-why-you-need-one.html> [Accessed 2 March 2022].
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