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Montessori for… Infants?

Montessori for… Infants?

If you follow along with my Instagram, you may have seen my celebratory post on Thursday when my Milana began her journey at Montessori school with Nico and Gabriella. I wasn’t just excited for the logistical ease this brings to my life with all three kids going to one place, but also because I am so thrilled to have her in the Montessori environment from 8-3 every weekday.

I know what you must be thinking…. What possible benefits could a 6 month old get from the Montessori method?

Well, don’t mind if I tell you!

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First, let me remind you the answer that I give when people ask why I travel with my kids so young since “they won’t remember it” — if what we did with our young children didn’t register inside them somewhere, then we wouldn’t bother reading to them, taking them to museums, parks or anywhere else. Every interaction they have helps to form the very basis of who they become. So for that reason alone, what kind of environment they are in and what interactions they have are extremely important.

Second, a more substantive answer.

Maria Montessori said that babies have an unconscious absorbent mind.  That is, they take in impressions of the world around them without any effort. They absorb by very nature of being able to do little else. And, both fortunately and unfortunately, they absorb the good and the bad.

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“He is by no means passive. While undoubtedly receiving impressions, he is an active seeker in the world.” -Maria Montessori

Montessori knew that the period of time from birth to age 3 a child’s brain develops more rapidly than at any other time, and more learning takes place than at any other stage of development. Recognizing this, the Montessori approach to infants and toddlers is based on love, nurture and individual child development in peaceful, supportive and safe environments. These early years are the years that lay the foundation for later learning – and the stronger the foundation, the more the child will be able to build upon it.

One of the most important things about early Montessori education to me is the respect teachers display for students. Teachers always engage with students on their levels, never leading from a power position up high or at the front of the classroom. Children’s big emotions aren’t simply tolerated or put up with, but explored and nurtured and encouraged, respectfully of course.

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Infants are approached in the Montessori environment as whole people, just as each student is, regardless of age. They are spoken to as though they understand everything that is being said, which the teacher or guide narrating what they are doing or going to do.

Education must begin at birth. -Maria Montessori

You may have read here or elsewhere about the prepared environment in a Montessori classroom. This trickles down to birth to three classrooms as well, with the classroom design intended to foster independence and desire for exploration. Practical life and self-care is a heavy presence in this environment, with a focus on washing, dressing, eating, toileting, cleaning, preparing food, and taking care of plants or animals. The children in this space take great pride in doing things for themselves.

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Another thing that is so beneficial in the Montessori approach for infants is the mixed aged classroom, which can be from 18-36 months, depending on the program. At my children’s school, they follow Montessori’s classic 3 year classroom swing, which gives students that enter as infants a chance to begin as observers in the classroom, grow into followers of the older children, and then become the leaders. Having watched Nico go through this cycle in Birth to Three, it was really remarkable to look back over his time in the program and watch how he went from being the young one in the classroom to being the leader and guiding the younger friends. Developing leadership skills as well as caretaking, for others and the environment, is so wonderful to see at such a young age.

I could probably sit here and talk for hours about the many benefits that I see to a Montessori early education, but the fact is- it might not be for every child or every family. I do believe my children benefit because I model what they are used to at school at home (as much as I can, at least).

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That being said, I believe there are benefits that I couldn’t even possibly begin to tell you about (don’t challenge me to try!) because so many of them aren’t exactly tangible. It’s easy to quantify things like “my kid can recite the alphabet” or “my child knows how to count to 100” – that’s not what I perceive to be an advantage to early Montessori education.

I don’t send my kids to Montessori to be smarter, although I certainly think that the way they learn is forever changed and that has obvious academic advantages. I send my kids to Montessori because the program is based on respect for the child as a unique individual — emotionally, mentally, intellectually, physically, spiritually, and every other possible way one could imagine.

And for that reason, I think a Montessori early education program is something for every parent to think about!

And if you’re intrigued, check out my post on Edoki Academy’s Montessori Preschool app, where you can find the Montessori method and environment at home in tablet form!

Have a beautiful week, friends. Thanks for your engagement!

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By 3under3andme

Krista is an attorney residing in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband, son Nico, daughters Gabriella and Milana, and their au pair, Chloe!

26 Comments

  • My children are 2 and 4 and I’m all for the Montessori way! They learn so much and I agree on taking your little ones with you traveling, adventures, etc… it definitely introduces them to new surroundings and babies, infants, kids are all smart! No reason to hold them back from learning a little extra. 🙂 Great post!

    • Absolutely! It’s so great that you like to adventure with your littles too! Montessori has encouraged me to follow their interests and getting out and about definitely is something they love to do!

  • Cristina Petrini

    I have always been fascinated by the Montessori method which I like to read or watch documentaries. The woman herself who created it has an incredible story. I believe that the Montessori Method is really the best way to educate children in a productive way also for their future.

    • You know, Montessori documentaries are one thing that I haven’t researched! I think I am going to look into some- I love all sorts of documentaries I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner! Thanks for planting the seed!

  • I recall when My husband and I chatted about this Montessori method for our daughter who is almost 5 years old. We never really do anything about. Now I am expecting again, I think we would definitely look it. Thanks for the reminder 😊

  • Marie

    I love Montessori and the earlier they start the better! There is always so much to learn. And think of the child who can’t remember the first time they experienced this kind of learning because they have always been in the classroom (or home) experiencing it. What a great way to teach children the importance of lifelong learning.

  • Agnes Dela Cruz

    In this modern age an extra hand for the family to get by the whole day is such a big help. I am glad that there is this such thing where babies can be taught and taken care of at the same time.

  • I guess it is a new concept for infants to attend montessori. As parents we have a choice in how and when our children receive their education whether it is at home or in a formal environment. The most important thing is that kids learn no matter where they are placed.

    • It’s not entirely new, but not super popular either. In fact, it’s hard to find Montessori schools with full birth to three programs. That is just one of the many reasons I love my children’s school – they have invested to make this such an incredible and successful program!

      • I know! You’re so right! I’m still hoping that I can manage to get my kids in some kind of immersion program; there’s a Spanish immersion school that’s about 45 minutes away that would be great and is largely Montessori based but it’s just too far away for us right now.

  • Susan1375

    I’ve always thought the Montessori education plan and philosophy is interesting but very got housed for the child . It would be interesting to track the achievements of say identical twins to see if and how the educational outcome differs between a traditional education system and the Montessori one.

  • Ruth I

    Early bird catches the worn doesn’t it? It’s nice that infants can learn the youngest as possible. Super like this!

    • I love Montessori for so many reasons, but mostly because of the individualized care, attention and teaching. Which amounts to meeting that child where they are. Basically the opposite of standardized teaching/testing.

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