The Nido Community
The “Nido” from the Italian word for “nest”, is how Maria Montessori described the infant environment. At MINE, ME, & US Montessori School, classrooms are home-like with lovely, natural wooden and cloth materials, child-sized wooden furniture, clean surfaces, soft soothing music, and magnificent plants in order for children to feel safe, cared for, loved and challenged in their ideal home away from home, their Nido.
The schedule of the Nido Community classroom is more structured than the Nido Environment and more closely resembles that of the Toddler Community. The children enjoy longer spans of time to work in the classrooms with the various developmentally appropriate materials.
The children have moved to two naps each day. They start their day with work time in the classroom. The Montessori materials in the Nido Community are designed by Dr. Maria Montessori and offer isolated developmental challenges for the children. Throughout the school at MINE, ME, & US Montessori School, all the classroom materials are made of natural substances. There is no plastic in the Nido Community.
The daily nature walks are longer and more challenging; exploring the woods and climbing the mountain. The children spend their time outside looking at insects, jumping in puddles, dragging branches, relaxing in the grass and looking at the clouds, playing in the mud, building stick forts, running on the rugby field, and what ever else they are compelled to investigate. A nature walk at MINE, ME, & US Montessori School is a journey, not destination. When the focus is on the destination, so much is lost in the journey.
The outdoor environment at MINE, ME, & US Montessori School is not a typical playground, but more like a children’s botanical garden. Edible plants, beautiful flowers, nature pieces, and natural fine an gross motor challenges make up the beautiful outdoor environment.
MINE, ME & US Montessori School chooses baby-led feeding to promote independence during meals. Independence begins at six months old when a child is sitting up and has teeth. Baby-led feeding eliminates pureed textures and the concept of spoon feeding. MMUMS uses this practice to facilitate learning to eat, chew, and swallow, self-feeding, development of fine motor skills, and allows a baby to try a larger variety of foods.
Baby-led feeding allows babies to develop a gag reflex. Gagging indicates that a baby is learning to handle a problem themselves and is a natural response to cope with solid food.
The difference between gagging and choking:
Gagging: a child may appear to have a mild cough and make noise. Gagging is a safe response to food traveling too far back into the mouth or to a child having too much food in their mouth
Choking: a child may present a look of fear and does not have the ability to break or make noise.
If a baby is gagging, it is important to remain calm and observe the scenario. A child will learn from your reaction, if you are scared, they will be scared too. Instead, choose to stand by the baby and offer calm words and support. After the baby has successfully removed the food from their mouth (by swallow or using their hands), offer them a sip of water.
Things to know when baby is ready to start eating solids:
The baby may not actually eat the food in front of them. Baby-led weaning is not about eating a complete or full meal. It is about exploration and learning to eat. This developmental process will vary from child-to-child.
Serve the baby what you are having. They might not like it but they will be getting calories/protein from breast milk or formula, as well.
At MMUMS, the babies in Nido community are served the same foods as the toddlers, children’s house, and elementary school children. Certain foods are altered by shape or consistency to allow baby to eat what everyone else is eating. For example, carrots or apples may not be shredded in a salad, but instead the baby will be given carrot sticks or apple wedges, allowing them to hold the item and avoid choking. Another example is instead of whole peanuts, a baby may be given peanut butter. Allow the baby put food in their mouths themselves. They will learn the controlled movement of their tongue as food moves backwards.
*Honey and cow’s milk are not introduced until 12 months of age.*
A child’s day in the Nido Community:
When you drop your child off, she’s greeted by her teachers and friends. After a kiss goodbye, she is off playing with her friends outside. She will take a break for a bite of food, typically dry cereal and a fruit. After more time outside, it’s inside for brunch. Today’s meal is plain Greek yogurt, oats and puffed Kamut toppings, with chunks of apples and nectarines; cow milk and water to drink. After brunch and a work cycle in the classroom, it’s time to go outside. Boots on! And some help from a friend to take them off!
Lunch is kale tacos with black beans, sour cream, sliced avocados, shaved parmesan cheese, and corn tortillas. After lunch and nap she’s outside to play again before you pick her up from school.
Having been educated and cared for in the Nido Environment and the Nido Community since she was very little, she now sits independently at the table eating her snack. She has learned to move her hands purposefully, crawl and walk with confidence, talk and communicate with others; yet most importantly, she has the self-confidence, grounded in trust and safety in her environment to attempt new challenges. Her independence, curiosity, compassion, and intuition have been nurtured as she spent her first year at MINE and she is ready to graduate her exciting new class, the MMUMS Toddler Community.
Infants at MMUMS are on a flexible sleep schedule based on their individual needs and are welcome to sleep as needed. Infants are to be placed on their backs to rest on the Montessori floor bed. Each infant shall be individually checked every 15-20 minutes. For an infant that cannot move without help, faculty must offer to change the places and position of the child at least every 30 minutes or more frequently depending on the child’s individual needs. We provide infants with a variety of positions during the day. Staff shall engage children on the floor daily and provide opportunity for “tummy time” each day for infants that are not able to roll over themselves.
MMUMS advocates for Montessori floor beds, but if parents opt out, children will be provided with an individual crib. Pillows and filled comforters shall not be used by children under two years of age. If the use of a crib is preferred, bumper pads are prohibited. At MMUMS we use mobiles and do not use crib gyms or toys strung directly over an infant.