Ages: 6 weeks to 3 years
INFANT & PREPRIMARY (0-3 YEARS)
ENVIRONMENT & CURRICULUM
The selection and design of materials for infants and toddlers are intended to address the particular developmental characteristics of very young children.
These include a rich, diverse, and precise modeling of vocabulary; the use and play of words, print, and song; exploratory experiences with the properties and relationships of objects; developing skills of perception, discrimination, identification, coordination, muscle and body strength; and a variety of sensory, social, communication, cognitive, and physical opportunities.
The infant environment is designed to promote safety, security, comfort, curiosity, movement, and independence. Simple activities are placed on low shelves for the mobile infant to explore. An interesting variety of objects are brought in a “Treasure Basket” to a propped up nonmobile infant. Open sided floor beds are used for the infant to rest and sleep without confinement. Restrictive furniture such as walkers, playpens, high chairs, “sassy seats”, or cribs are not used.
Teachers regularly speak, sing, and read to infants to promote language development. The teacher’s relationship with an infant is highly personalized, responsive, and loving. According to Dr Maria Montessori, the infant is an astutely aware and intelligent person in a state of the “unconscious absorbent mind”. The teacher’s interactions with the infant facilitate the experience of their world as rich, empowering, trusting, and secure.
The infant’s daily activities are highly individualized and not scheduled. Feeding, sleeping, changing, and interactions are according to the infant’s needs, interests, and developing abilities.
The preprimary daily activities are scheduled around an individualized greeting, a 2 hour uninterrupted work cycle, community meeting, outdoor activities, lunch, rest, and afternoon activities. Morning and afternoon snacks are available.
The preprimary classroom is organized with accessible materials for individual engagement in areas of practical life, sensorial, language, arts, and music. A child is presented simple lessons in holding, carrying, interacting with, and returning a selected activity to its proper place. The repeated practice of these procedures help a child to develop a sense of sequence (beginning, middle, and end), autonomy, responsibility, and care for the environment. The nature of the preprimary social community encourages patience, respect, self-control, and cooperation. The variety of activities are designed to isolate specific skills of large and small muscle control; eye-hand coordination; sensory discrimination of color, shape, form, and size; vocabulary enrichment; phonemic sound recognition; and verbal communication.
The principles of the curriculum for 2-3 and primary children emphasize individual activities for the child to explore and master. Concrete concepts are presented before abstract ones; simple concepts before complex ones; presentations generally follow a left-to-right, top-to-bottom sequence as preparation for reading and writing.
FEEDING & EATING
Infants are fed or eat according to individual needs. MGRI does not supply formula or food. Bottle fed infants are held while feeding. MGRI accommodates and encourages nursing mothers, and follows appropriate procedures for the safety of breast milk. A microwave is not used to warm bottles or food. Infants who are transitioning into solid foods sit at a low (“weaning”) table across from the teacher as the beginning of independence.
MGRI encourages the use of breastmilk for feeding infants. Whenever possible nursing mothers are supported to feed their child at the school. Otherwise MGRI follows procedures in the storage, preparation, and feeding of frozen or fresh breastmilk. A breastmilk-fed infant cannot be given formula without written authorization from the parent. Copies of these procedures are included in the handbook appendix.
Preprimary children sit at a table when eating. Please provide nutritional meals and snacks for your child; avoid processed meats, sugars or artificial sweeteners, and packaged “convenient” foods.
Select foods that minimize the risk of choking. Avoid hot dogs, nuts, hard candies, spoons of peanut butter, foods with seeds or pits, or popcorn. Celery, carrots, or grapes should be sliced lengthwise into 1 inch pieces.
MGRI does not promote or permit the use of pacifiers for children. Research shows that pacifier use interferes with a child’s optimal development of the immune system, dentition, language, self-regulation, and the bonding process.
Non-ambulatory infants are changed on a changing table; an infant who is walking steadily is changed in a bathroom designed with a low toilet and benches.
Using a toilet is a learning process for the child as an experience of developing control over natural body functions.
Changing diapers or toileting are experiences that focus personal attention on a child and as an opportunity for meaningful interactions rather than as a routine. We implement recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics that diapers be checked at least hourly for wetness and soiling.
Parents are expected to provide appropriate clothing changes for daily pickup and encouraged to promote toileting self-control by the use of cotton clothing. Children wear cotton underwear at MGRI to facilitate their awareness of body functions.
The child participates in changing and cleaning when developmentally ready. Families are requested to cooperate with the staff in the appropriate methods for their child to learn these skills in a positive and successful manner.
You are to provide sufficient changes of clothing for your child to be kept at the MGRI. Please use a permanent marker to identify them with each child’s name. MGRI is not responsible for washing your child’s clothes.
At no time is a child to be punished, threatened, humiliated, or forced in the learning of toileting.
MGRI follows strict sanitary procedures in diapering/toileting, including hand-washing before and after changing, use of changing paper, appropriate cleaning of the child, sanitizing of surfaces, and proper disposal. Disposable gloves are used only in the event of diarrhea, blood secretion, severe rash, open sores, or particular medical condition.