No one can be free unless he is independent. Little children, from the moment they are weaned, are making their way toward independence.
– Maria Montessori
The Infant Program
Infant Room: 12 months – 24 months
Class Size: 6 – 8 children
Teacher Child Ratio: 1 to every 4 children
picture of infant classroom coming soon…
The Infant Classroom Environment: Introduction
It is said that a child’s mind is comparable to a blank slate and adults can assist them towards getting education by giving them essential lessons and instructions. Another good comparison often used to refer to a child’s mind is that of an empty bowl or cup waiting to be filled up by parents and teachers.
Back in the early 1800’s, Maria Montessori established that the above metaphors are incorrect. She discovered that the young child’s mind is similar to an observer or a scientist who is eager to learn, explore, try new things, and master new skills. More importantly, she observed that with proper stimulation, the child’s ability to concentrate, absorb, and master new ideas and skills escalates, and that the earlier he begins to undertake a program of intellectual, physical, sensory, and creative education, the more intense the results will be. Infancy is a time of great sensitivity to language, spatial relationships, music, art, social graces, and more.
During this critical period of growth and development, if a normal child’s mind is introduced to an opulent environment, his brain will actually develop a lasting and stronger ability to learn and accomplish new skills, and important milestones. It is unfortunate that our culture perceives preschool teachers as insignificant educators, when in reality, the impact that they offer is of the utmost importance in a child’s educational life. This is especially true for infant and toddler teachers. It is good to know that the one thing being realized through all these years is that, Montessori education has changed this unremarkable notion and have proven their worth as responsible, good initiators for the success of early childhood education.
The Montessori classroom offers a calming and soothing effect on the people surrounding it. This is the place where the infants feel happy and secure. The Infant room is kept comfortably warm and cozy, allowing them the necessary space to move about comfortably wearing clothing that will not inhibit freedom of movement. The Montessori teachers all speak gently and allow the baby to feel the love and care they need. The classroom contains several low shelves decked with fine-motor skills materials such as puzzles, bead-stringing, rings on posts, pegboards with large pegs, object permanence items, and various containers to work on, involving such activities as opening/closing and filling up/emptying.
Practical Life is a major element in any Montessori classroom. For infants, Practical Life is fairly basic and mainly teaches them to care for themselves and eat independently. Practical life teaches them to become independent and learn the day-to-day activities. They will learn the basic holding, grasping, picking up and releasing object.
Infants are just beginning to discover cause and effect, and start to enjoy experimenting in various ways, such as shaking a rattle or banging on things to make a noise. Around 12 months, the pincer grasp develops the fingers. In order to strengthen this movement, they can simply pick up a tiny bit of cereal or cheerios when eating.
Infants are interested in sensorial experience, that is why we provide music and the human voice for listening, mirrors for visual stimulation, and varied textures for touching. Children between the ages of 12 to 18 months learn to use their 5 senses in order to differentiate hearing sounds, seeing colors, and touching textures.
Infants should be exposed to language. That is why we always talk to our infants and name some objects found within their reach. By doing this repeatedly, they will begin to understand what we want to tell them. Around 12 months, children experiment with their voices and start imitating sounds. They usually begin with babbling sounds and maybe able to say a few words, such as ball, mama, etc. Language materials such as books, objects, and pictures for naming are provided to further enhance their speech development and to keep them stimulated to learn more words.