Our Infant environments, currently offered at Irvine Spectrum, Huntington Harbor, Lomita, 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 infant rooms welcomes children as young as 12 weeks of age. Our prepared environments have developmentally appropriate materials and activities that follow the child through each stage of infant growth. Because we “follow the child”, we provide a variety of environment where infants can explore based upon his/her curiosity and mobility, not just his/her age.
The age range for our infant program is from 12 weeks to 24 months. After the age of 18 months a child may begin his transition to the toddler program. Move-up ages may vary by several months. Please note that space availability is also a factor.
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 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.
For the older infants, 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.
All of our environments have several special features that also set them apart from typical day 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.