Our Infant environments, currently offered at Irvine Spectrum, Huntington Harbor, Palos Verdes, and Encinitas campuses, and planned for our San Francisco and Brooklyn campuses, embody Maria Montessori’s vision of a “Nido” or nest; they are peaceful, loving places where babies can explore and feel secure. Teachers speak in gentle tones, the daily pace is unhurried, and décor is understated and homelike. Each child in our care is an individual to be nurtured with affection and respect. As is customary for Montessori environments, every detail is selected with the child’s whole development in mind.
Each of our locations have two Montessori Infant environments: one for younger infants, and one for older infants. The purpose behind the divisions in our infant program is to separate children who are outgrowing the developmental challenges of the younger infant stage and/or beginning to walk from those who are not yet fully exploring their environment and/or mobile. Because we “follow the child”, an infant transitions to the older infant environment based upon his/her curiosity and mobility, not just his/her age. Move-up ages may vary by several months. Please note that space availability is also a factor.
The younger infant room welcomes children as young as 12 weeks of age. The age range for moving up into the older infant room is between 8 months to 12 months, with 10 months being the median age.
Our older infant room houses children from approximately 10 months through 24 months. A child must be at least 18 months of age to transition to our toddler program.
The Prepared Environment
A child’s early years are a time of great sensitivity to bonding in order to establish trust in the world, as well as language, order, sensorial impressions, and development of coordinated movement, both fine- and gross-motor. Each of our Infant rooms reflects the child’s development of movement, independence, and capacity for active exploration. Because an infant’s brain is wired for language acquisition, our environments offer rich opportunities for babies to learn through plenty of reading, singing, sign language and a running dialogue as your child’s caregivers explain the events of your child’s day. Our respect for each child shows in how we engage him or her in each care-giving opportunity, rather than merely doing things to the child.
In our 12 week to 10 month Infant environment there are special mobiles and images to stimulate brain development, as well as a variety of tactile objects for children to explore. Because this is the period when infants learn to roll over, slither, sit, crawl and potentially walk, the room has many opportunities for movement. There are striking differences between a Montessori Infant environment and other, more traditional care settings: our babies do not spend their active time in playpens, jumpers, walkers or other containers. Instead, in our Infant rooms you will see …
- many soft floor mats and bolsters on which babies can move freely.
- mirrors positioned close to the floor to stimulate tummy time and self-discovery.
- low bars mounted to the wall and soft furniture for children to pull themselves up onto.
- an abundance of Boppy-style pillows for infants to climb over and prop themselves onto.
In our 10 to 24 month Infant environment, where crawling and newly walking babies have their hands free for exploration, you will see…
- low shelving with materials for fine-motor development and cause/effect, such as puzzles, rings on a post, and containers to open and close.
- opportunities for purposeful water play.
- a stair with low steps and a railing to practice climbing up and down.
- pull and push toys to promote gross motor movement.
Both environments have several features in common that also set them apart from typical care settings:
- We support breastfeeding! Our Infant rooms welcome mothers who would like to nurse their baby during midday visits.
- We use low tables and chairs, instead of high chairs, for snacks and solid meals. We believe this provides young children with a valuable first experience at gaining independence with self-feeding.
- Ours are tranquil environments where a designated nap space ensures quality rest when babies need it.
A newly constructed outdoor space designed especially for infants, with soft surfaces and a variety of spaces to explore, plus equipment to climb over and through. We also have multi-child strollers for taking infants on regular “buggy rides” both outside and indoors around our campus.