Infant/Toddler room (4 months- 2.5 yrs)
Even in their first days, infants begin to exercise their will and crave freedom of movement.
Cause and effect. We strive to create an environment where the child is no more dependent on the adult than necessary. We want them to know that they have the power to create an effect even at a very early age. For example, instead of having mobiles that require an adult to turn them on electronically or spin them, we use simple mobiles that will respond to a child's kicking or reaching. A single bell on the end of a ribbon shows the child that a sound is created when he/she touches it.
Gross motor skills. Children are encouraged to exercise their freedom of movement by moving towards objects placed near them, but just out of reach. As they begin to crawl, they can move about the space in any way they want. There are also ample opportunities to practice standing by pulling up on low, sturdy shelves, or on a bar attached to the wall. Infants are never placed in bouncy seats, swings, or any other implement that will constrain their movement.
Social interaction. Much of our time in the infant room is spent responding to the facial expressions and sounds of the infants. We also place mirrors on the walls so they can interact with their own reflections.
As children learn to walk and move through their environment, our young toddlers benefit from the following components of the infant/toddler room.
Sensorial. Toddlers spend much of their mental energy organizing their sensory input. Sensorial activities help toddlers make sense of sights, smells, textures, colors, and sounds. Toddlers practice distinguishing colors with the color tablet box. Activities such as the knobbed cylinders and shape-sorting puzzles develop the ability to distinguish dimension. Smelling bottles with different stimulating essential oils help them to discriminate between different smells. Musical instruments open up the world of sound creation.
Language and math. The toddler environment is full of language and opportunities to develop number sense. Toddlers are encouraged to express themselves. Storytelling and reading aloud expose toddlers to new words and gives them opportunities to empathize with characters. Through engaging with matching games, such as matching the silhouette e of an animal to a full color picture of the same animal, pre-reading skills are stimulated. Sorting stones develops a sense of quantity.
Physical activity. Toddlers are very active and will develop a natural rhythm of rest and activity if given the opportunity. Toddlers at Nido are encouraged to move about the space freely. Outdoor play time happens twice per day, except in the case of severe weather. Gardening activities and nature walks give toddlers much-needed contact with nature and is beneficial for regulating their energy and attention throughout the day.
Children's House (2.5 - 5 yrs)
As toddlers get ready for more advanced learning, especially in the areas of math, language, and culture, they will be transitioned into our Children's House.
All of the skills from the Infant/toddler room will continue to be practiced in the Children's House. Here are some additional areas of learning that will be incorporated for our 2.5-5 year olds.
Practical life. The cornerstone of the Children's House program is the development of practical life skills. Focus is placed on the process of learning each skill, not the particular outcome. Young children practice the skills of getting dressed by exploring frames equipped with various types of latches and closures. They develop hand-eye coordination and graceful movement by learning how to pour water from a pitcher and wash their hands. Polishing metal and dusting surfaces gives these children a chance to take pride in their environment and speaks to their desire for order in a space.
Math. Children in this group begin develop a refined sense of quantity and spatial awareness. They practice ordering rods of different lengths from shortest to longest. They use constructive triangles to understand how different shapes can occupy the same space. They are introduced to equilateral, isosceles, and scalene triangles. They practice with sandpaper numerals to learn how to write each number and the quantities associated with it.
Language. Circle time at the beginning of each day is a time for checking in with each student and practicing the social norms of holding a discussion. Children are encouraged to use descriptive language to speak about their world. After practicing tracing the shapes of sandpaper letters, they being forming the shapes on their own in sand trays. A moveable alphabet introduces them to putting letters together on their own.
Geography, science, and art. At this age, children become interested in the world around them. We introduce them to maps, globes, and different land and water forms. We discuss the parts of plants and animals through botany and zoology puzzles, and children have hands-on experience with planting and tending a garden. Part of their introduction to science includes caring for the classroom fish. We also do daily art activities and teach children basic color theory.