Babies of one year or below usually search for you to be around them and panic when they do not find you.
Have you faced this situation lately with your babies?
They drop things and watch you put them back over and over again. It is normal behavior for babies as they inch towards turning one year old.
With this, your little one is ready to discover object permanence, which is, that people and things continue to exist when they are out of view. With this new awareness, babies start to understand that the person or object still exists and will return even if it is out of sight for some time.
What is object permanence? Why is it important?
Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, through his research, believed that the development of object permanence is one of the primary lessons that infants learn. For infants to develop this ability to understand that objects exist even when they cannot see them for a while, they need to have a mental picture of them.
He observed that infants learn about their world through their senses, touch, vision, taste, and movement. Piaget experimented with a blanket to hide toys to test how infants of different ages reacted. The older babies around eight months old and above were more likely to look for the hidden toy.
Children gradually develop this cognitive skill as they turn 6-8 months old through play and exploration. The concept of object permanence is not as simple to babies as it is for us.
Adults know that whenever an object is out of sight, it still exists in that spot where it was placed. We have the awareness that things exist without being seen.
For newborns, the world is much different. They develop object permanence over time. They can only relate to things they can see upfront, and slowly learn to recognize objects and people. But they do not have a deeper understanding that items continue to exist when they are out of sight. That makes the concept of object permanence complex for them.
The object permanence box is one of the Montessori materials that promote object permanence skills in children.
What is a Montessori Object Permanence Box?
A Montessori object permanence box is a wooden box with a hole on the top and a window on the side. It has a tray on the side and a ball to drop through. The materials are child-friendly, made with wood like other Montessori materials, and encourage independent learning. With this box, the baby can drop the ball in the hole on the top. The ball disappears for a while and rolls out of the window. After the ball reaches the tray attached to the box, children can repeat the activity.
Babies enjoy watching the repetitive motion of the ball disappearing through the hole and reappearing in the tray.
The object permanence box helps a child understand the concept of object permanence, that an object that disappears from view still exists and will return.
When can the Montessori Object Permanence Box be introduced to children?
Every Montessori material has its significance and is for a specific age and purpose. If children are not yet interested in learning a particular concept, it will be challenging for you to hold their attention. However, if you can utilize the right opportunity, it will keep their curious minds and hands occupied for hours.
You can find the object permanence box in the Montessori infant/toddler environment. It is introduced to children when they are old enough to sit up without any support, generally around 8–12 months of age or above seven months.
How do you introduce the Montessori Permanence Box to children?
When presenting the object permanence box, it is better to keep your presentation short so that the child can listen with full attention. Few meaningful words are necessary for presenting the activity.
Direct aim – To help children develop a sense of object permanence.
Indirect aim – The permanence box indirectly helps children in many skills like developing focus and concentration, fine motor skills, and others which we will see in the next section.
- Place the work mat and put the object permanence box on the work mat in front of the child. Encourage the child to help you with placing the object.
- Show the box and the ball to the child.
- Slowly place the ball in the hole.
- When the ball stops rolling in the tray, pick the ball.
- Repeat the steps.
- Ask the child to place the ball in the hole.
- Once the child begins dropping the ball in the hole, allow her to work uninterrupted and independently.
- When the activity is over, encourage the child to put the materials back on the shelf so that she can work again when she wants.
Significance of Montessori Permanence Box
The Object Permanence Box helps to attain important developmental aspects for your child. Even though the activity looks quite simple, it takes a lot of effort from babies. First, they need to be able to sit with confidence to focus all their attention on this activity. Then, they have to be able to hold and drop the ball into a relatively small hole.
Here are the benefits that your child can reap by doing this activity.
- It inspires repetition, which is a critical factor in developing concentration in children.
- A Montessori permanent box helps develop memory.
- As children grasp the ball and drop it while playing, it strengthens their hand muscles.
- It helps to gain finger dexterity, controlled movements of hands, and coordination across the body.
- It helps in developing fine and gross motor skills.
- It helps in stimulating sensory experiences.
- Children learn to explore the relationship between cause and effect.
- The permanence box helps develop hand-eye coordination.
- It helps develop visual skills by tracking moving objects.
- It also promotes logical thinking.
- As children transfer an object from one hand to another, it stimulates both sides of the brain.
- It raises their self-esteem as they can play with it independently.
Where can you buy a Montessori object permanence box?
You can buy Montessori object permanence from Amazon.
You can make a Montessori permanence box at your home with an old shoe box or container. All you need to do is create a place where objects can disappear or hide for some time before they reappear with ease.
Babies enjoy seeing that anything that enters the box and goes out of sight still exists as it returns from the other side.
It may take some time for a few children to get familiar with the activity as every child learns at a different pace. You can still encourage them, observe and guide them as they learn.
There are other simple games that parents love to play with their babies, like peek-a-boo, which develops the idea of object permanence at an early age.
Even though understanding object permanence is not given as much importance and value as speaking or walking, it has a potential impact on the development of children. The Montessori Object Permanence Box is a great tool that aids in learning the concept, which your little one will enjoy and apply in life skills and play.