Early Discovery: Infants and Toddlers

Maria Montessori’s research revealed that children are learning from the moment they are born. Establishing an environment that is attuned to their perspective of the world is essential for their development.

At Maria Montessori International Academy, our infant program is distinguished by quiet low-light settings and soothing music that help infants make the adjustment from their mothers’ wombs. 

We encourage children with their natural desire to explore the world around them and become self-sufficient. We provide natural materials that their small hands can grasp.

Our MMIA family understands the wonderful journey of learning your child is embarking upon. We’re excited to offer the programs specifically designed for the unique needs of newborns and toddlers.

Montessori Mommy and Me

Many families want enriching, educational experiences as part of their child’s early development. Our MMIA Mommy and Me program was designed with those opportunities in mind. We offer programs for children ages 3 months to 18 months, and programs for children 18 months to 3 ½ years.

Our Music Rhapsody program, an exclusive offering in Indiana, is one of the leading childhood music programs in the nation. Developed by internationally known music educator Lynn Kleiner, the program acknowledges a child’s innate ability to make and move to music.

It cultivates creativity in your child by helping them to develop a love of music in an engaging environment. You and your child will bond as you sing songs together and play with special instruments.

Our program is called Mommy and Me, but fathers are welcome as well! Learn more about other classes.

Our classes

EL NIDO: 3 to 18 MONTHS

El Nido, the infant program at Maria Montessori International Academy, was developed using the philosophies of Dr. Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori Method, and Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE). We are committed to the mutual philosophies of Montessori and RIE to maintain a goal of respect between your child and our caregivers.  

Infant smiling

El Nido is ideally suited to provide a smooth transition between your home and MMIA’s caregiving environment. As part of basic routines, whether it’s feeding, diapering or initiating naptime, our caregivers treat your child as an individual. We speak respectfully to each child, ensuring that we gain their trust.

Toddler

We also understand that children learn and develop in their own way and at their own pace. An infant’s natural work is playing and exploring the world around him or her. The MMIA environment for infants is orderly, aesthetically pleasing, and safe for the developmental level of your child. This calm, quiet setting features natural lighting, the use of natural materials, including wood furnishings and toys, and soothing music. 

Toddler Program

Designed for children 18 months to 36 months of age, the Toddler Program at Maria Montessori International Academy is designed to encourage children to express their independence, from returning materials to their proper places, setting the table and watering plants to caring for themselves and interacting with other children in a respectful manner. Our MMIA atmosphere and Montessori materials encourage toddlers to develop their coordination, grow in their independence and self-esteem, and develop expressive and comprehensive language skills. If you visit MMIA, you’ll find toddlers purposefully engaging in work, the term that Dr. Maria Montessori used to describe the use of various materials in the school setting. These can include the following:

reading

Language-enrichment materials: We strongly embrace the Montessori philosophy that children are able to absorb language from their environment. These are the building blocks for their ability to learn how to talk, read and write. Most MMIA students are reading by the age of 4. The foundation starts in the toddler years, the period of the Absorbent Mind, as Dr. Montessori described it.

Infant Coordination

Coordination materials: Eye-hand coordination is an essential part of a child’s development. MMIA uses colorful, natural materials that promote eye-hand coordination. These can include a variety of activities, such as gluing.

Practical life materials: An important part of a Montessori environment, practical life skills are developed through a child’s day-to-day activities. Through preparing their own food or putting on their own clothes, a child is able to gain independence and confidence. 

The MMIA Toddler community is kept small, intimate, and flexible with a variety of planned activities. In this environment, the needs of the children are adhered to at all times rather than a plan created by adults. There should be a feeling of joy in this environment as these young children are given freedom. They are not given license to do whatever they want, but they are given freedom within a structure that caters to their developmental needs.

The Absorbent Mind

Dr. Maria Montessori, drawing upon earlier philosophies, recognized that the period from birth to early childhood as the period of the Absorbent Mind, developed through Sensitive Periods. She divided them into four areas that your child experiences as part of their development.
The following is a summary of those four areas.

MOVEMENT

Babies are moving, stretching and exploring with their limbs, even before birth. Instructors of Montessori understand the importance of providing children the ability to continue that exploratory movement, using their fingers, hands, legs, and feet to connect with the intriguing objects surrounding them. We encourage an environment that provides infants with free, safe movement so that they can further develop eye-hand coordination. It’s important that a child is not constrained in their ability to move at the early stages of their development.  

LANGUAGE

Communication is key to a child’s development. As you speak to your infant, you may see them intent on watching your lips and expressions. This is evidence of a baby’s interest in language and the connections made through conversations and other sounds. In Montessori, the development of language is reinforced through a teacher talking and singing to an infant, practices that parents naturally engage in at home. Through imitation, children will start moving their own mouths and making sounds to develop their ability to communicate with those around them.

SENSORY PERCEPTION

Touch, taste, sound, smell, and hearing are all new and important perceptions in the life of an infant. As such, the Montessori philosophy is centered on ensuring those sensorial perceptions are engaging without being overwhelming. We choose soothing music, natural materials and elements of nature to accommodate a child’s need for a welcoming sensorial experience of their world. We keep those elements simple, whether it is a classical tune played at a low volume or a chunky round wooden toy.

ORDER

To help infants and toddlers make sense of their world, it’s important to develop an orderly environment that promotes familiarity and calmness. At Maria Montessori International Academy, we understand the need for children to be in an environment that is calm and welcoming. Throughout our schools,  we facilitate familiar surroundings by keeping items simply furnished and organized. As children develop, they learn the concept of putting objects back into their dedicated places. 

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“The education of even a small child, therefore,
does not aim at preparing him for school, but for life.”

— Dr. Maria Montessori