Richland Academy’s Infant Program offers an emotionally supportive learning environment designed to promote each child’s development during their sensitive stages. It is important for a young child to be independent within an environment that maintains a balance between activity-based challenges and emotional support.
The Montessori Infant classroom is a combined, multi-age community of learners between the ages of 6 weeks and 18 months. Children move freely within the environment between various hands-on, self-correcting materials. These materials are designed to appeal to the child’s desire to explore the world in a meaningful way.
Richland Academy believes consistency between home and school is important. In order to maintain that consistency, we fully support breast feeding mothers by feeding breast milk to infants in our care. Parents are welcome to bring clearly labeled frozen or thawed breast milk to school. Also, moms are welcome to come to the school to breast feed during the day.
Richland Academy strongly believes that the best environment for infants is one that offers care that is founded on developmentally appropriate practice-care that “goes with” the development of each child, rather than interrupting it. In order to achieve this goal, our infant classroom offers each child the following:
The building of a relationship between a child and caregiver is the foundation of quality care for infants. The caregivers change from day to day to establish healthy trust and relationship building skills in our infants. A child develops trust as his/her daily caregiver learns to respond to his/her unique temperament, needs, and interests by being the one who appropriately responds to his/her needs. The child’s security deepens as his/her daily caregiver develops a positive relationship with his/her family and comes to know the family’s wishes for their child. This holistic relationship provides the security and trust that enables each child to become curious and competent explorers in the Montessori environment.
In the infant program the teachers and infants work on building healthy and secure bonds. The ability to develop healthy bonds allow the infant to feel secure and safe in the presence of several different caregivers. Healthy bonds allow the infant to feel safe even when a desired caregiver or parent leaves. Teachers work with the infant by responding to the infants’ communication attempts appropriately. This allows the infant to understand that their needs will be met in several different environmental settings.
Many childcare facilities group children according to vary narrow age ranges (often separated by as little as six months) and are moved to new rooms as often as four times before they turn three years of age. This strategy of constant shifting to new groups may disrupt the child’s developmental processes as he/she is required to shift attention from his/her own development to adjust to a new space. The mixed-age grouping in our Infant Program allows children to experience life in a consistent setting. Development proceeds without the interruption of moving, changing, and frequently adjusting during critical times of development.
Children listen intently and watch mouth movements from the time of birth. They gain understanding long before they can speak. Our Infants are immersed in oral language all around them. Caregivers talk to the children and explain what is happening throughout their day. As each child begins to experiment with their voice, imitating sounds, and saying a few words, caregivers will talk and listen to them. Language materials in the environment such as books, objects, and pictures for naming will further expand each child’s exposure to language.
Infants are interested in the environment around them as they begin to refine their movements. During this period they learn how to roll over, creep, and sit. Crawling, toddling, and walking follow. During the child’s first year it is critical that they be provided an environment for movement. Richland Academy’s Infant program avoids the use of swings, playpens, cribs, walkers, jumpers, carriers, and high chairs to contain your child. Children are free to explore the environment, which includes materials and equipment to promote creeping, standing, and walking. The room contains child-sized furniture to promote independence and gross motor development.
Fine motor development is encouraged as each child gains control of their arms and hands as they manipulate mobiles, rattles, and objects to mouth, grasp, and move. Infants like to experience and discover cause and effect, such as shaking a rattle or banging things to make noise. As the pincer grasp develops, the children practice eating finger foods, drinking from a cup, and manipulating a spoon.
Practical Life materials provide each child with opportunities to practice their self-help skills, allowing them to actively participate in self-care and eating independently. Through the practical life activities, children begin to develop positive work habits, independence, self-control, and the ability to concentrate. Materials in this area also promote the development of fine and gross motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and serve as the foundation for future work in all other areas of the classroom.
Infants are absorbing the world around them from the start of birth. We provide all the infants’ toileting needs in the bathroom, creating the association of bathroom needs and the bathroom. As soon as the infant is able to stand and is stable, we transition from using a changing table to standing changes. Standing changes provide the infant necessary privacy while introducing toilet learning. We offer the toilet as soon as the infants are stable walkers, to ensure we as caregivers do not miss the sensitive period for toilet learning.
Our Infant classroom is equipped with tools to expand, excite and reinforce all of your child’s senses: