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NAMTA's purpose is to maintain Montessori traditions, and at the same time, to be on the cutting edge of innovative education. Accordingly, we provide the medium for study, interpretation, and improvement of Montessori education.
Adults who are Montessori-trained at the infant-toddler level are called Assistants to Infancy. The Montessori infant-toddler program has several components that offer a wide variety of options and opportunities for involvement by parents. Schools that offer infant-toddler programs may offer one or more of the components described below.
Prenatal Classes advise parents of their role during pregnancy and focus particularly on the psychological and sensory perspective of the infant. Encouragement is given for parents' "delicate attention" to the child's developmental turning points in these critical early stages.
The Parent-Infant Class provides an environment in which parents and children interact alongside a Montessori-prepared adult who uses the environment to facilitate their interaction.
Caregivers are taught how to observe what their babies do in order to know what materials to offer them. The parent and child typically attend a two-hour classroom session once or twice a week. In some schools, a once-a-week, two-hour session, held in the afternoon without babies, involves presentation and discussion.
The group has a limit of ten parent/infant combinations with two trained staff.
The Nido (Italian for "nest"), often used by babies whose parents work all day, accommodates no more than nine children from two months to fourteen months of age with an adult-to-child ratio of one to three.
It is equipped with customized stands, stairs, and bars that the babies use for pulling-up exercises. The sleeping area is isolated and quiet, with individual mats for each child. The eating area is equipped with child-sized tables and chairs instead of high chairs. The physical care area is located next to a water source (usually a licensing requirement) with low stools or benches for children who are learning to change their own cotton underpants.
The Young Children's Community or Infant Community serves children who are comfortably walking (approximately age fourteen months) to age three, in a small and intimate group of twelve children and two trained staff persons. It has two program options, either half-day or full-day child care. The environment conforms to the physical needs of the children, both in the size of the furnishings and in the opportunities for motor development. There is an observation area for adults, minimal furniture, tiled floors, maximum natural light, selected art placed low on the walls, toilets sized for very small children, and defined spaces to challenge coordination of movement. The parent-infant class and the infant community use the same environment, which has three distinct areas:
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