Our infant environment embodies Maria Montessori’s vision of a nido, or nest. The Nido classroom welcomes children as young as 6 weeks of age through approximately 15 months. The Nido classroom is a nurturing, loving place where each baby in our care is cared for as individual with affection and respect. As is customary for Montessori environments, every detail in the classroom is selected with the child’s whole development in mind.
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Our prepared infant environment allows for free movement and exploration and has developmentally appropriate materials and activities that support the child through each stage of infant growth. It reflects the child’s development of movement, independence, and capacity for active exploration. A Montessori infant environment is different from a traditional childcare setting. Our babies, for example, do not spend their active hours in jumpers, walkers, or other devices. Instead, in our infant rooms, you will see the following:
The children are placed on soft carpets or rugs for free movement and to develop gross motor skills, while mirrors are placed low for self-discovery and to initiate and aide with tummy time. The boppy-pillows are placed on the floor for the children to lean against as well as safely climb upon and a low bar is mounted to the wall for the children to learn to pull themselves up.
The shelves are low for exploration with the prepared materials. The materials and activities within the classroom encourage the development of the areas of our curriculum: practical life/independence, language, sensory and motor skills.
The environment offers many opportunities for an infant’s natural desire for language with reading, singing, and sign language. Opportunities to learn language are also created by running dialogue as your child’s caregivers explain the routines throughout the day. The caregivers engage with the children in each daily routine of care with eye contact and explanations of what is being done, rather than merely doing tasks for them.
Each detail in the classroom is purposely selected to aide in the child’s whole development. The teachers in the classroom use and encourage soft, quiet voices. The décor in the classroom is simple and homelike. The shelves and highchairs are low for the children to start to gain experience with their independence.
Each of our classrooms has a Montessori certified Lead Teacher that is the supervisor for the classroom and is the main point of contact for parent communication regarding your child.
Because a child’s first year of life is a time of great sensitivity to bonding in order to establish trust, each baby in Nido has a primary caregiver who is responsible for monitoring his or her schedule throughout the day. The caregiver spends quality time with her children to ensure that a strong bond develops. The primary caregiver, along with other teachers in the classroom, communicates details about the child’s day to the parent on a daily basis. A daily written report is also provided.
Prior to your child beginning care, we ask that you schedule a visit to the classroom to talk with your child’s caregiver about your child’s preferences, routine, temperament, etc. We strive to complement your child’s routine at home as much as possible to ensure a sense of security and a smooth transition.
Additionally, we welcome you to call anytime throughout the day to check on your child. We also welcome breast-feeding mothers to nurse in Nido at drop off, pick up, or anytime throughout the day.
The routines of the day allow for feeding, active time, and napping. This routine repeats itself throughout the day and provides important predictability for your baby.
The daily routines are not hurried or on a set schedule. We follow the belief that each child has his or her own patterns and routines and we should follow the child’s cues, for example, as to when they are hungry or tired.
Children are responded to in a timely manner to ensure their needs are met on demand. We strive to provide continuity from home to school and follow the same routines and preferences as much as possible. This allows for your child to develop a sense of security and trust in the Montessori environment and his/her caregivers.
Teacher lesson planning for the infants does not necessarily involve lessons, but rather learning opportunities in a nurturing environment. The Lead Teacher carefully organizes the materials for the room, taking into consideration the children’s individual differences. Planning for the room is based on observations of the children’s interests, their new skill levels, and their reactions to materials.
In addition to planning for the group, the Lead Teacher completes an individual lesson plan each week for each baby. Individual lesson plans for the infants reflect their current developmental stages. Examples of developmental stages that might be on an individual lesson plan include:
» Learning to roll over, tummy time, sitting up, pulling up, crawling, and first steps
» Scanning objects and grasping or holding onto objects
» Baby sign language, sound or word imitation, and verbal language development
» Introducing food, new tastes, and textures
» In an effort to encourage independence we will introduce older infants to drinking from a cup at mealtimes and the opportunity and guidance to self-feed as soon as he or she is ready.
As the children develop within the Nido classroom, making the transition to the toddler room can involve a variety of factors. Because we follow the child and their cues, the transition to the toddler room may not be based on the age of the child, but more on their own mobility and curiosity. So, the age at which a child transitions may vary. Availability in the next classroom is also a factor.