The training of the teacher who is to help life is something far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training of character; it is a preparation of the spirit.
Dr. Maria Montessori
The most significant relationship in your child’s life is his or her relationship with you. Your connection with your baby is uniquely special, and at some level your child is aware of that irreplaceable bond.
But after you (and your child’s other parent/guardian), the next most significant impact on your baby’s development will come from the childcare provider you choose. She will be a major role model for your baby, and will contribute to his developing view of the world. She will impact his use of language, his social bonds with other children, and other areas of his growth. When you’re not there, it is her he’ll rely on for understanding and nurturing. When looking at childcare centers, this means that the type of people the center chooses as caregivers will determine how joyful and educational your baby’s time away from you will be.
In contrast to most childcare facilities, who look for caregivers, LePort specifically hires infant teachers. We believe the time we spend with your baby is too important to be viewed as mere childcare: we look for teachers who can nurture your child and help him mature cognitively and behavorially, in addition to comforting him and keeping him safe.
All of our teachers meet the base standards required at childcare centers: every teacher has completed her early childhood education units; teachers are CPR trained, and undergo a complete background check and health exam. What makes LePort different is that we go beyond this minimum standard.
We look for four key attributes in our infant teachers, both when we initially hire them, and as we develop them while they work with us:
- A passion and love for working with babies.
At LePort, we strongly believe that you have to be passionate to do a good job: we want students to be passionate about learning, and we only hire teachers for whom being with children is a passion, not just a job. This is especially important for our infant teachers. In contrast to the typical childcare center, which often hires low-skilled caregivers, and as a result experience high staff turn-over, we hire people who are excited to be guides in a young child’s development; who view their role not as a temporary job, but as a career requiring thought, reflection, professional growth. We believe this passion is visible in their day-to-day interactions with the babies in our care: come and see for yourself!
- Infinite patience and a calm, centered personality.
Providing childcare to an infant is hard work, with many emotional challenges (and, of course, immense joys!). We have found that patience—infinite patience—is essential to working well with babies. Because our infant teachers love this age group, they delight in observing each baby, in discovering his unique temperament, and in responding to his individual needs. This focus on observation, and the knowledge of the importance of the early years, helps our teachers be unfailingly patient (and admirably more calm and centered than many of us are with our own children at home!)
- An explicit, thoughtful approach to nurturing and guiding young children.
Our Montessori-trained lead teachers love working at LePort, because we offer an authentic Montessori infant program. In many childcare settings, there isn’t an explicit approach to guide the day-to-day life with infants. What happens in one childcare room may be different from another one next door; and as childcare providers are often short-time employees, it often changes from week to week, or month to month. This can be very confusing for babies, who urgently need consistency to bring order to their world. In contrast, our program consistently applies Montessori ideas, such as following the child, encouraging independence, observing and individualizing instruction, and using positive approaches to discipline.Our Montessori-trained lead teachers guide those staff members new to the program, and help them to consistently implement this positive, respectful and loving approach to caring for babies and young toddlers.
- A thoughtful, educated and intelligent individual.
In her book, The Good School, author Peg Tyre quotes a preschool teacher who explains why intelligence really matters for teachers of young children:
The best preschool teachers turn out to be ones who are very smart. “There’s a lot of things that you have to figure out. Preschool can be more difficult than the other grades because a lot of your teaching has to be embedded in other things. Understand that when you are playing with one child you’re working on their vocabulary, and with another child that you’re facilitating social skills and you’re teaching it through indirect ways.” Peg Tyre
That’s one of the reasons we look to hire smart, university-educated individuals to become teachers, even in our infant classrooms. Yes, childcare providers for babies don’t have to demonstrate mastery in algebra—but they have to be able to think on their feet, to be creative, and to be able to observe and respond to each baby’s needs and personality. They also are one of baby’s key role models, which means they need to speak in simple, yet rich and grammatically correct sentences.
Hiring the most talented and dedicated teachers, and maintaining a 1:3 ratio isn’t the cheapest way to run a childcare center. To the contrary, it’s expensive. But our goal at LePort Montessori isn’t just to run a childcare facility. Our aim is to offer an enriched, Montessori educational environment as your baby’s home away from home.
This means only intelligent, high-energy, passionate yet patient individuals can qualify to work in our program. Hard to find? Yes—we review scores of resumes and conduct dozens of multiple-round interviews. But then that’s our responsibility: finding the best possible individuals to guide your child during his critical early years. Lucikily, with our reputation as the highest-quality, most authentic Montessori school in Orange County, and one who provides an excellent, supportive work environment for teachers, we usually have our pick of applicants!