The Montessori Infant Toddler Program

The Montessori Infant Toddler Program

Adults who are Montessori-trained at the infant-toddler level are called Assistants to Infancy. The Montessori infant-toddler program has several components that offer a wide variety of options and opportunities for involvement by parents. Schools that offer infant-toddler programs may offer one or more of the components described below.


Prenatal Classes


Prenatal Classes advise parents of their role during pregnancy and focus particularly on the psychological and sensory perspective of the infant. Encouragement is given for parents' "delicate attention" to the child's developmental turning points in these critical early stages. 


The Parent-Infant Class


The Parent-Infant Class provides an environment in which parents and children interact alongside a Montessori-prepared adult who uses the environment to facilitate their interaction.


Caregivers are taught how to observe what their babies do in order to know what materials to offer them. The parent and child typically attend a two-hour classroom session once or twice a week. In some schools, a once-a-week, two-hour session, held in the afternoon without babies, involves presentation and discussion.
The group has a limit of ten parent/infant combinations with two trained staff.


The Nido


The Nido (Italian for "nest"), often used by babies whose parents work all day, accommodates no more than nine children from two months to fourteen months of age with an adult-to-child ratio of one to three.


It is equipped with customized stands, stairs, and bars that the babies use for pulling-up exercises. The sleeping area is isolated and quiet, with individual mats for each child. The eating area is equipped with child-sized tables and chairs instead of high chairs. The physical care area is located next to a water source (usually a licensing requirement) with low stools or benches for children who are learning to change their own cotton underpants.  


The Young Children's Community


The Young Children's Community or Infant Community serves children who are comfortably walking (approximately age fourteen months) to age three, in a small and intimate group of twelve children and two trained staff persons. It has two program options, either half-day or full-day child care. The environment conforms to the physical needs of the children, both in the size of the furnishings and in the opportunities for motor development. There is an observation area for adults, minimal furniture, tiled floors, maximum natural light, selected art placed low on the walls, toilets sized for very small children, and defined spaces to challenge coordination of movement. The parent-infant class and the infant community use the same environment, which has three distinct areas: 

  • The movement area includes stairs and a platform; movement mat; push cart; wall bars; materials for eye-hand coordination such as threading, bead stringing, cubes on pegs, spheres on horizontal pegs, puzzles, gluing, folding; and various practical life exercises.
  • The practical life area includes materials necessary for preparing and serving a snack, setting and clearing the table, sweeping, caring for plants and animals, dish washing, clothes washing, ironing, polishing, hand washing, window cleaning, flower arranging, and so on.
  • The language area includes miniature objects, language nomenclature cards (parts of the body, family members, pets, components of the neighborhood, the school, and the home), books (fiction, poetry, nonfiction), spoken vocabulary enrichment exercises, and other activities including art and music experiences.

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