Nido (3 – 18 months)

This prepared environment is designed for children ages 3 to 18 months.

The word 'Nido,' the Italian word meaning 'nest,' captures the spirit of the infant environment as a warm, comfortable, safe, beautiful, and orderly place that provides activities and materials for our youngest children, aged 3 to 18 months. Dr. Maria Montessori believed that education, as an aid to life, begins from the period of pregnancy. She believed that children at this age develop best when provided with appropriate freedom in a safe and carefully prepared environment that respects the needs and desires of the infant as a person.

Prepared Environment

The Nido environment is nurturing and home-like to stimulate the development of infants in a way that promotes independence and self-esteem, allowing the infants to explore and interact. The environment and activities are carefully designed to meet their unique needs during this sensitive period.

Our primary focus is to address the three basic needs of the infant (which both operate on a physical and psychological level) by creating:

A safe and caring connection between adult and child
An environment that encourages the development of the infant's growing sense of self and independence
Freedom to move so that the infant develops an understanding of his body in space

Furniture

Each piece of furniture is made to the proportions of this young age to enable successful development toward movement and independence.

Material

Through simple displays and aesthetic order, the Nido environment is designed to respect, support and respond to the infant's sensorial development and learning. The trust and sense of belonging gained through the infant's interaction with caring adults encourages the infant to explore and learn.

Food

The infant is held and fed with breast milk or formula provided by the parents. Breastfeeding is welcomed if a mother is able to visit during the day. Those children who begin to be able to sit with support will sit at a low table and chair during meals and learn to use a spoon and glass with guidance of the adults. This allows the young child a valuable first experience at gaining independence with self-feeding.

Sleeping Area

The infant sleeps or rests on a floor bed. The bed is used whenever the infant is tired. He has the freedom to roll out of the bed, look around and get things from the shelf. The floor bed provides the infant a psychologically and physically comfortable place for resting. It aids the infant's independence by allowing him to get in/out of the bed at will once he is moving. It also serves as an important point of reference for the adult to learn to respect his rhythm.

Toilet Learning

Infants in the Nido are beginning to learn how their bodies function. We assist them in this process by engaging them in a non-judgmental diaper changing process. The frequent changes of cloth diapers help them make the connection. A changing table, potty and child size toilet are equipped in a clean, hygienic environment.

Movement

Movement is a vital characteristic of an individual, whether an infant or an adult. Purposeful movement is the initial key to human expression and connection with nature, animals, and other individuals. The environment is filled with carefully prepared materials that will encourage your child to freely move and aid his or her development in movement.

Gross motor

From stationary work with mobiles that encourage visual development, to other materials that encourage grasping, rolling, slithering, scooting, crawling, and eventually pulling up to stand and walk, the environment for the youngest child offers a variety of appropriately challenging, sensorial experiences to bolster the acquisition of purposeful movement and language.

Fine motor

The materials that require manipulation of the hands and general body coordination promote the children's spontaneous efforts to gain control of movement.

The senses: visual, tactile, auditory, kinesthetic

The young child absorbs the world around him/her through the five senses, and a rich environment caters to the child's senses. The beautiful materials attract the child's interest and fulfill the child's natural urge to explore the world. Gradually, the child lengthens his span of concentration.

Language

Language is the interaction between two or more people. It can take many forms such as body language, crying, eye contact, symbols, music, speech, etc. It is one of the most important pillars for the development of a child for it synthesizes personal experience in expressing his feelings.

In the Nido, our adults speak in their native tongue to provide the most authentic and accurate means of language. In addition, music and sound are incorporated to introduce other ways of communication.

The Adults

The adults, the key to the environment, will guide the children by creating learning opportunities in every moment. PRINTS's Nido Staff is AMI trained in child development and highly attentive to the individual needs of each infant. They involve the child in the care given him, as well as talk, explain and foster the child's desire to participate.

In his first years of life, the child needs points of reference in the environment. In the home, the child will have his parents with their smell, sounds, touch, and the way they feel. In the Nido, all adults wear a special garment to provide the child a sensorial guide with which to identify a safe parent substitute. The garment also satisfies the need for cleanliness and maintains a hygienic environment.

Collaboration with Families

Communication with families is extremely important to PRINTS Assistants to Infancy (trained AMI caregivers in the Nido and Infant Community). Not only do they communicate frequently about the children, but they know that communication about the process of Montessori education and the materials used is vital for the complete development of each child in their care. Community Involvement Nights (CINs) offer a broad overview of Montessori philosophy and developmental education, and break-out sessions at each developmental level offer specifics germane to the monthly topic for each developmental stage. Parent-teacher conferences are held twice yearly, but more frequent updates for optimum development are essential.

A Typical Day in the Nido

Children are free to work with materials in the environment, sleep, eat, and play, etc., under an adult's supervision. Some activities include practicing to crawl and walk, observing mobiles, or using materials that aid in hand-eye coordination. Overtime, the child establishes a routine that the adult in the environment will respect and follow. Mothers are welcomed to arrange to nurse their children in the environment.

Useful website: http://aidtolife.org/