New program helps parents recreate Montessori environment for babies
Posted December 28, 2014
Walk down the baby aisle in the toy section of any big box store and you'll see it all: touch and swipe baby phones, balls with flashing lights, talking stuffed animals, learning laptops.
But babies don't need all of those bells and whistles to discover the world around them, said Nancy Errichetti, head of school at The Montessori School of Raleigh. They need safe, cozy places without clutter where they can explore and learn.
The Montessori School of Raleigh is offering a new program for children ages six weeks to 10 months old that runs Jan. 19 to March 16. My New World is designed for both parents or caregivers and their young children. The goal is to design a Montessori environment for infants that parents can recreate at home.
Errichetti said the program is as much about working with the kids as it is about preparing the parents for what lies ahead.
"In its best iteration, it will be as much about parent information as it is for the child," she said.
In the space where My New World will take place, everything is at eye level for a crawling baby - a long mirror lays on the floor, short uncluttered shelves allow for babies to pull up and see everything, a few simple toys are scattered around.
"You need some things, for sure," said Errichetti, a mom of three kids. A mobile, a pull toy and a mirror are all good toys for babies, she said.
"If you're very intentional with a child, less is more," she added. "It becomes much more about the full experience of what is in front of them than the fractured experience of running from thing to thing."
A key principle in the Montessori method is that children are capable of doing many things on their own - whether it's crawling away from mom as an infant or picking out their clothes and dressing themselves as a toddler. If a baby sees a parent cringe as she crawls away, for instance, she could learn that leaving mom or trying new things is scary.
Errichetti said parents need to create a safe, simple home environment so those solo explorations are encouraged and expected.
"If you've done your job well, they grow up to be captains of their own ship," she said.
And it's key, she said, for parents to slow down and match the pace of their child. Put down the phones and other gadgets and spend time everyday - at least 15 minutes - focusing just on your baby. Parents should become students of their own children, anticipating when they are hungry or hurt or completely capable for a task.
"You always want to be in a position where you are taking guidance from them," Errichetti said.
Valentina Barilli Roach, a local mom of two and former Montessori School of Raleigh directress, will lead the 10-week program. She has been a stay at home mom since the birth of her two children and has developed a Montessori module and routine to raise and teach them.
Two of the 10 classes will be for parents only. Space is limited to seven child/caregiver pairs. The cost is $300 for the program. The north Raleigh school's website has more information about the program and also how to create a Montessori environment for young children.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.