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What do you need to know about infant care in Montessori schools? Whether you're a first-time parent or you're new to the Montessori method, take a look at the top questions about infant education answered.
Isn't Montessori a Preschool Program?
Yes, these schools often include pre-K programs. Known as the casa dei bambini or children's house, the preschool class is designed for children ages three through six.
Even though preschool-aged children can attend this type of school, this age group isn't the only option. Some schools also have infant, toddler, kindergarten, and primary programs.
What Is a Montessori Infant Program?
Like other non-Montessori schools, this focused type of early experience also includes care and support. But an infant program also includes education aspects and much more. While programs may vary by school, infant classrooms help the youngest of learners to make discoveries, explore, and develop across all domains—cognitive, social, emotional, and physical.
What Do Infants Learn in These Care Programs?
The specific activities and experiences offered depend on the Montessori school you choose. These may include basic large or gross motor skills(such as crawling, cruising, or walking), small or fine motor skills (grasping, picking up, or transferring objects from hand to hand), language skills(making sounds or words), and self-care skills (feeding or washing, when age-appropriate).
Social activities may focus on teacher-infant communication. The educator will talk to the infants, ask questions, respond to sounds, encourage the children to make sounds, and read books interactively.
What Ages Are in the Infant Room?
This type of educational philosophy is based on a multi-age approach. Traditional schools and daycare centers typically group children together by year or half-year. Montessori classrooms include several ages in one grouping.
Some programs have a combined infant-toddler classroom. This grouping may include children from birth through age three. If a school or center doesn't offer an infant-toddler program, they may start classes at one year or age two and a half. Talk to your child's future potential school director or educator about the program's age-graded groupings.
What Materials Will Infants Use?
Unlike traditional daycare centers, you won't find typical store-bought toys and playthings in this type of program. Instead, infants use specially designed materials. These encourage exploration and self-directed learning—even in the earliest years.
The educators won't give or require their young students to use materials. Material choice is personal and based on the infant's or young child's interest level and enjoyment.