Montessori for 0 to 3 year olds

The first three years of life are the most fundamental in the development of human beings and their potential. The infant’s physical development is phenomenal and apparent, inspiring our care and attention. Yet a profound and less obvious development is taking place within the child.

The child’s intelligence is formed during the first three years of life. They acquire the culture and language into which they have been born. It is a period when the core of personality and social being are developed. An understanding of the child’s development and the development of the human mind allows environments to be prepared to meet the needs of the infant and foster independence, motor development and language acquisition.

Nido (Montessori for babies)

The infant community is called a ‘Nido’ – Italian for ‘nest’ and the learning environment is designed to meet the developmental needs of babies from eight weeks old to the developmental milestone of walking independently.

The ‘Nido’ environment is specially prepared to stimulate the young infant and is divided into five areas: movement, eating, sleeping, physical care and outside. The focus is on fostering basic trust in the child; therefore, the Montessori adult has a caring, respectful response to the infant’s physical and psychological needs and conveys the message of unconditional love and acceptance.

Infant Community (Montessori for Toddlers)

The toddler community is designed for tamariki who are walking securely through to approximately three years. The pace is simpler and slower than the early childhood (three to six year old years) classroom with Montessori materials and activities particular to this age group. It should never include simplified materials from the Montessori 3-6 year curriculum.

In this community, there are new opportunities for movement and independence, development of language skills, art, music, and sensorial and practical life activities. Group activities such as singing and stories provide young tamariki with the experience of belonging to a community. The food preparation and outdoor play provide a framework to encourage social development, while the Practical Life area provides the activities to give tamariki the chance to develop skills to care for themselves and their environment. These Practical life activities are simple and can be accomplished by each child, which offers a repetitive cycle that aids in establishing patterns of order and sequencing. Due to the fact that these are very real activities, each child becomes grounded in reality. Through song, dance and freedom to choose activities, the infants have access to various large muscle activities that offer them opportunities to jump, climb, balance, crawl or skip. Everything in the environment is proportionate to the child’s size and is designed to be safe and aesthetically pleasing for children.

Building the child’s self esteem, concentration and self-confidence is the ultimate goal, and this is accomplished through repeated successes with the activities in the community. Allowing freedom in a safe space is crucial to the infant community. However, it is always tempered by two important limits that will be beneficial for a lifetime, respect for others and respect for the environment.