Most of our new families have not experienced a Montessori school before, so this is the second out of a four-part blog series to show you with pictures and short descriptors what each level is like at Sunrise Montessori! This week’s focus is Bambini, which means children in Italian (Dr. Maria Montessori, who created the Montessori curriculum and philosophy, was Italian).
In a traditional Montessori school, there are four age groups: Nido (infants), Bambini (9 – 18 months), Pre-Primary (18 – 36 months) and Primary (2.8 – 5 years). Two of our rooms are Nido, two are Bambini, five are Pre-Primary and six are Primary along with an after school/summer camp program for elementary students. Sunrise Montessori is a big school with a small school feel. Other typical child care centers and Montessori schools of our size have up to 6 floaters to help support the children and teachers. We currently have 10 and are interviewing to add another. Why almost double? So we can have three floaters assigned to our four baby rooms. This allows our babies to get to know them better and vice versa, creating a less stressful environment for infants who have stranger anxiety.
The Bambini level classrooms are less individualized than a Nido classroom and follow a daily schedule (see below). Please click here for our blog post on A day in the life of a Nido classroom. In a Bambini classroom, children are slowly weaned off of bottle feedings and transitioned to only table finger foods.
8:00AM – 9:30AM Work Period: Children will engage in free choice of work, art and sensory activities, and teacher-guided lessons
9:30AM – 10:00AM Snack Time
10:00AM – 10:15AM Circle Time
10:15AM – 10:45AM Outdoor exploration
10:45AM – 11:00AM Hand washing and preparing for lunch
11:00AM – 12:00PM Lunch time; then clean up and prepare for nap time
12:00PM – 2:30PM Nap time
2:30PM – 3:15PM Transition from nap time/Snack
3:15PM – 6:00PM Children will engage in free choice of work, art and sensory activities, music and movement, afternoon centers
Diapering and Nap Time
One of the big differences in our Bambini classroom compared to the younger Nido classrooms is the method of diapering. We practice what we call stand-up diapering (once they are able to stand). This is a Montessori practice that is an important part of our approach to helping each child become independent and confident with self-care tasks. Stand-up diapering for toddlers and two-year-olds involves showing each child how to push down one’s pants, how to remove a wet diaper, how to use a wet wipe properly, how to put on a clean diaper/apply the tabs to secure it, and how to pull pants back up (the Teacher is the one diapering while the child holds a handrail, see pic below). Why does the child stand while their diaper is being changed? So that they have direct participation in the process, to practice dressing skills, build up their muscle tone, to give them the opportunity to see what is happening, and to pave the foundation for later use of the toilet and the transition to wearing underwear. We recommend that our families incorporate the practice of stand-up diapering at home as part of their child’s routine!
Another big difference in our Bambini classroom is the transition from cribs to mats. Once a child can roll over, is able to stand up in a crib and/or is too long for a crib, they are transitioned to sleeping on a mat with a blanket. Everything we do is to foster independence and ease of movement.
We use sign language to help the children communicate their needs. Signing allows our Bambini students to clearly communicate specific thoughts, reduces frustration, and offers a window into the child’s mind and personality. Signing won’t delay verbal language development – in fact, research shows that babies who sign often talk sooner and develop larger vocabularies. Here is a sample of common signs we use in class.
The quality of our children’s experience at our school is paramount in all that we do. The State allows up to 13 babies from 9 – 18 months with two caregivers. At Sunrise, we have our own ratios. In our Bambini classroom, we practice a ratio of up to 10 babies with two teachers. Our Lead Teachers are also mothers. We find this helps immensely in the quality of care given and received as well as understanding important milestones.
Transitioning from bottles to only table food is a big part of the development our Bambinis are working on! Figuring out how to use a sippy cup, fork, spoon, and trying different food groups are important skills! Self-feeding is the ultimate in self-care and independence.
Our two Bambini classrooms have their own porch! They are able to use it twice a day.
And no day is complete without a story! Language is spoken consistently throughout the day to help our babies develop their speaking skills and reading a book is not only fun to listen to, it’s filled with interesting pictures and vibrant colors!
We hope you enjoyed this little tour of our Bambini program! Next week’s post…Pre-Primary!