Montessori infant-toddler environments may be provided in several ways, e.g. nurseries, daycare settings, playgroups and parents' classes. These are the typically offered as described below:
Before the child can walk, the Nido (Italian word for nest) provides an environment for the child to move and become familiar with his body. Low beds, floor mats next to mirrors with hanging mobiles, rattles and other toys that encourage movement, are features of the Nido. As the child starts to crawl and then pull up to stand, there are bars and stools for support and to help the child to develop balance and coordination.
When the child can walk, the Infant Community provides opportunities to challenge his equilibrium with stairs and pushcarts and to develop eye-hand co-ordination with Montessori toys that allow for activities that fascinate the child at this age - such as posting and putting things in and out of drawers and puzzles. Children are helped to choose their own activities and supported to play with them for as long as their interest holds.
Children at this stage of development love to practise with the dressing frames which help them learn to button their coats or buckle their shoes. Child-sized utensils are offered and they take part in simple practical activities such as cutting a banana or squeezing an orange, cleaning the table, sweeping the floor and caring for plants and animals. These activities help children to gain confidence in themselves and develop the ability to act independently.
The child’s natural hunger for words is supported by picture and word cards, stories, poems and songs as well as a trained adult who knows how to listen and talk to children so that they absorb a rich and varied vocabulary.
Parent and Child Classes
These are held under the guidance of a Montessori trained adult in a Nido or Infant Community environment. The adult carer learns with their child how to use an environment specially prepared for a child of this age, how to observe the child and support their development with appropriate activities at home.
Preparing for Parenthood
These classes for expectant mothers and their partners, discuss the Montessori approach to pregnancy, birth and the preparation of the home environment for the new-born.