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Rituals and routines: the home/school connection

Dropping a baby off at daycare for the first time can be a very sad event for a mom or dad. After all, it’s a transition from being able to observe, experience and guide every aspect of your child’s life, to one where she’ll now regularly be away from you for hours at a time.

We know this separation is hard—probably harder for parents than for babies!

But we also know one thing that makes it easier: when we engage in frequent, detailed, two-way communication with parents, and see work with them as a partner rather than treating you as a mere client. To put it differently, our goal is to work with you to build a community around your child. At LePort Montessori, we simply have too much respect for the bond between parent and child to approach it any other way.

We are experienced experts in helping children thrive. We encourage you to see us as more than just a daycare, as as a resource to make sure your child has the best possible start. We want to be there to help you, not merely by offering daycare, but by being your partner. We want to keep you informed, to answer child-rearing questions you have, and to offer suggestions how to help your child at home, too.

Because we offer a Montessori infant program, our focus is on your child’s overall growth and well being as a developing individual, not just some delimited metric of growth in some specific area. This means that the home/school connection, and building a community on that basis, is central to what we do. Here’s the many ways we interact and communicate with parents who enroll their baby with us:

  • Free home visits prior to the first day.
    One of our trained teachers will come to your home for an (optional) home visit, before your baby starts his Montessori daycare experience with us. We want to understand your infant’s environment, so we can ensure a smooth transition. We also want to spend quality one-on-one time with you, so we can build a relationship, and answer questions you have in the privacy of your home. While we are with you, we may offer up ideas on how to align your home environments with the Montessori approach your child will experience in his class—and we’ll provide you with a free copy of a great little book, In A Montessori Home, so you can read up on simple changes you can make at home, too.
  • A carefully coordinated transition to school.
    At some daycare centers, on the first day, you may come to the facility, drop your baby off, and depart for the day. Not so at LePort. We invite you and your baby to visit for an hour or so together. Then we’ll have him come for a partial day, and finally, for a full day when he’s ready. This transition allows all of us to get comfortable with each other.  Throughout, we’ll communicate regularly – with quick phone updates, chats at pick-up, and photos we’ll email to you.
  • A daily written update.
    Babies change so quickly, and so do their routines. Each morning, you’ll complete a quick report updating your child’s primary caregiver about his activities (sleep, eating, health.) Each evening, you’ll receive a form back with similar details, as well as with information on the supplies your child may need (diapers, underwear, sunscreen.)
  • An open-door policy and frequent informal communication.
    As a parent, you are always welcome to visit your infant at our schools. We especially welcome breastfeeding moms on breaks, too. You can also have a quick chat with your child’s teacher at drop-off or pick-up, or schedule an after-school meeting with her at any time.
  • A weekly logistical email.
    Every Tuesday, you’ll get a detailed email with updates about all upcoming events, deadlines and activities relevant to you child’s daycare experience at LePort Montessori. It’s a great way to stay on top of things like photo days, parent education events, holiday parties and re-enrollment deadlines.
  • Frequent educational information.
    You’ll receive email updates, handouts, and blog links about infant development regularly, on topics from sleep training to toileting, from feeding to language development. You’ll also receive frequent emails with photos of your child in class through our Transparent Classroom parent communication system; often, emails will contain links to a description of what your baby does, so you can learn how he/she is, in fact, learning and not just spending the day in traditional daycare. Finally, we offer parent education nights at school four times a year: please join, as these are great opportunities to learn more about Montessori, and to see your child’s classroom from the inside.
  • Regular conferences and written progress reports.
    Because we offer an education from the start, not just daycare, our infant teachers get together with parents twice a year for a formal conference. We also provide you with a written progress report that summarized your child’s development over the past year.
  • Parent-only school Facebook group.
    Each LePort school has a private, parent/teacher Facebook group. This is where we regularly post photos from school, and where you can interact and form a community with other parents at your child’s school.

Think about LePort not just as a daycare option, but as a dedicated partner in your child’s early years. Together, in regular communication, we can help your child take his first steps towards growing into that happy, healthy, flourishing adult you will someday have the pleasure of knowing.

The four key attributes of a great infant teacher

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!

Montessori infant care or nanny? How to choose which childcare option is right for you.

Finding the right childcare for your baby is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as the parent of a young infant. Often, the choice is between childcare in your own home—a nanny or an Au Pair—or care in a childcare center or home-based childcare setting. Here is a list of pros and cons, as you consider whether to opt for LePort’s Montessori infant program, or a childcare arrangement with a dedicated provider coming to your home.

Advantages of the LePort program over a nanny or Au Pair:

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  • A trained professional to guide and nurture your child. Most in-home childcare providers have little if any formal training in guiding young children. They may have completed a few courses, and taken CPR training, in the case of younger sitters or Au Pairs. Or in the case of some nannies, they may have had years of on-the-job childcare experience. But few full-time nannies are college graduates, and even fewer have completed a rigorous course of study in child development. LePort’s lead infant teachers, in contrast, are college-educated, intelligent professionals, who have completed a year-long, advanced program in Montessori education for children ages 0 months – 3 years. They have studied child development, practiced working with infants under the careful supervision of experienced AMI teacher-trainers, and have completed teaching internships in a Montessori infant or toddler pogram. And they’ve been evaluated by LePort on a range of criteria, from expressive vocabulary to genuine warmth and caring for children. As a result, our infant teachers are not mere childcare providers: they are trained guides and teachers for babies.
  • An environment that is optimized around a baby. A home is a beautiful place, but unless you are able to set aside an entire room for your baby and equip it with special furniture and a wide range of materials, it remains a space designed primarily around the needs of adults. There will be many things baby can’t touch; many things baby can’t reach; many objects that are hard to child-proof perfectly and still be useful for adult purposes. In contrast, LePort’s Montessori infant environment is designed entirely around the needs of babies. Mirrors go to the floor. Special small stairs with rails invite babies to crawl and climb. Soft floor mats cushion falls. Low shelves abound, and on them are placed materials carefully selected to help babies explore safely with all their senses. Miniature tables and chairs allow children to have a meal together; and even the toilet is baby-sized.

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  • A valid, consistently implemented, transparent approach to child rearing. Most new parents don’t have a well-formulated approach to all the many challenges of raising a newborn. When a nanny or other childcare provider comes in the house, her approach often becomes the de-facto standard for handling the baby. Unfortunately, what the nanny does may not be in line with best practices: for example, few childcare providers understand all the many ways in which an infant’s independence needs to be developed, and do things to the child (feeding, dressing, diapering), rather than helping the child do for himself as soon as he’s capable. Of course, a parent who knows exactly how she wants to bring up her baby, and who has a lot of time, can select and guide a childcare provider (nanny, Au Pair) to follow the right approach. But unless you have that knowledge and the willingness (and time!) to provide this coaching, you may be better off finding a program like LePort, where you understand and agree with the fundamental approach.
  • Socialization & community building. When your child is home alone with a nanny, his opportunities to observe and interact with other children are limited to excursions to the park or an occasional baby class with the nanny or with you. In contrast, in the Montessori infant program, young toddlers learn how to interact with each other in a civilized way. If socialization is one of your goals for your child, a nanny as childcare is probably not the best option.

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  • A reliable childcare solution, independent of one person’s health or family issues. If you work full time, and your nanny calls in sick, you may have to take time off. In contrast, with LePort’s program, we guarantee childcare for your child: when one of our teachers is sick or has to leave on a family emergency, we have floaters on staff, so you don’t need to stay home from work to cover your childcare provider’s absences. Plus, our floaters give your child’s primary childcare provider regular breaks, so she can be cheerful and patient all day long, instead of getting tired by being on duty for 9+ hours without breaks.
  • A guaranteed spot in LePort’s highly sought after preschool program. LePort’s preschool programs are in high demand and usually have long waiting lists. At some of our locations, the only way to get into the preschool program is by starting early. Enroll your baby now for childcare, and you’ll have priority enrollment, for preschool and beyond!
  • Much lower cost than a nanny, for 5 full days of care. LePort’s infant program pricing reflects the quality and care that have gone into the program design, the 1:3 ratio, and the highly qualified teachers who guide our youngest students. Still, for 9+ hours of childcare per day, five days a week, the LePort program is about half to two-third the cost of an experienced nanny or other in-home childcare provider.

When a nanny or Au Pair may be the better childcare solution:

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  • If you work from home and can see your child regularly throughout the day. If you work from home, and have a flexible schedule, a nanny gives you the ability to see your child during the day. Those breastfeeding breaks together, a quick stroll in the neighborhood or the opportunity to read a book together are great daily joys that a childcare center setting just cannot provide.
  • If the lack of a commute is more convenient given your particular situation. For instance, if your home and work are far from one of LePort’s infant program locations, it may just be more convenient to have a childcare provider come to your house, rather than having to drive to our schools to drop-off and pick up your baby every day.
  • If you don’t share LePort’s approach to early childhood education, and want a nanny with a different style of childcare.
  • If you want your child’s primary caregiver to speak a language other than English with your child. (In this case, you may also want to look into LePort’s language immersion programs, which begin at 18 months old.)
  • If you have two children to care for, a nanny may be a significantly cheaper childcare option. This is especially a factor for families with twins—although LePort does offer a sibling discount!

Five differences between LePort’s Montessori infant program and traditional daycare

If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence. It must initiate them into those kinds of activities which they can perform themselves and which keep them from being a burden to others because of their inabilities. We must help them to learn how to walk without assistance, to run, to go up and down the stairs, to pick up fallen objects, to dress and undress, to wash themselves, to express their needs in a way that is clearly understood, and to attempt to satisfy their desires through their own efforts. All this is part of an education for independence.

Dr. Maria Montessori

Although Montessori schools serve a daycare market, we do not think of our Montessori infant program as a type of daycare. The difference is just too significant.

If you visit any mass-market daycare chain, and then spend 20 minutes observing in our Montessori infant rooms, you’ll vividly see and feel the difference between the two. If you can’t make that comparison to daycare yourself right now (or are just struggling to find words to capture the difference you experienced!) here are five things that set the LePort Montessori infant program apart from typical daycare:

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  1. A carefully prepared Montessori home-like environment, not a daycare center. At most daycare centers, plastic materials dominate, from toys to furniture, because they happen to be easy and quick to clean. We want more for your child: our infant environments are beautiful by design. They are open, bright spaces, with high-quality, wooden furniture and comfortable chairs for teachers to snuggle with babies. You’ll see soft floor mats, lots of pillows of different shapes and sizes and soft sheepskins to rest on. There’s art on the walls, at baby’s eye level, and mirrors along the floor. On first sight, this room may look more like your living room than a daycare center. And shouldn’t it? LePort’s Montessori program will be your baby’s home way from home, after all!
  2. Love and respect for each individual child and family. Often, daycare centers feel too regimented: strict sleep schedules, mass-feedings in high chair line-ups, and parents not welcome at school. At LePort, we treasure each baby as a unique individual, and do everything we can to tailor the routine of feeding, active time and nap to his needs. We never confine your child to a high chair; instead, we cuddle with him in comfortable seats with a bottle, until he’s ready and excited to transition him to a low table and chair, where he can participate in eating with his own spoon. And, of course, moms are always welcome to join their child for a mid-day breastfeeding break!
  3. Freedom to explore at their own pace: a follow-the-child approach. Walkers, cribs, play pens: in many daycare settings, children spend much time in these and other containers. At LePort, in contrast, our mission is to liberate your child. We recognize that being encouraged to move is critical for infant development. Soft floor mats in front of mirrors encourage tummy time and self-discovery. Low bars mounted to the wall and soft furniture entice children to pull up. Stairs with low steps, a railing and a slide just call for practice climbing up and down.Because of our individualized approach, each child progresses through the stages of movement—rolling over, crawling, cruising, walking—at his or her own pace. In contrast to most typical daycare centers, we never force 12 infants to conform to a group, not for feeding, not for sleeping and not for anything else. As part of our overall follow-the-child approach, we customize your child’s activities to his or her unique needs. Socialization, in our environment, happens naturally; being with other little people thus is a joyful experience for your baby, rather than something that becomes associated with forced group activities for which babies just aren’t developmentally ready.
  4. Nurturing guidance for growing brains. A baby’s brain grows more during the first two years of life than any other subsequent two-year period. Our trained teachers recognize that education starts at birth, and work to provide an environment that will foster the child’s natural process of exploration. From beautiful, captivating mobiles for babies to observe, to immaculate materials on low shelves demonstrating simple cause-effect relationships, our environment and activities are carefully designed to facilitate and encourage self-initiated learning, exploration, and growth.montessori-shelf-supplies-day-care-huntington-beachThe first two years of life are also a “sensitive period” for order. Babies have a natural need to follow routines, to understand sequences, to know where things in their environment belong. As Montessori educators, we actively support your baby’s need for order: there is a special place for each material, and even children as young as 14 months delight in being able to put things back where they belong on the low, open shelves (something they rarely can do in other daycare settings, which often are cluttered, and have toys stored by staff in boxes or out of babies’ reach.)Our teachers are also masters at stimulating your baby’s language development. As Montessori educators, we know that the “sensitive period” for language acquisition starts at birth. Our teachers provide vocabulary at timely opportunities in response to their emerging interests: we observe and identify what your child focuses on (a blue mobile, a wooden chair, a soft, green, furry ball), and give her the language that goes with her interest. This responsive, individualized approach to fostering language skills has been shown to advance toddlers’ language development by up to an astounding six months!
  5. Highly trained teachers, and a ratio that supports lots of individualized attention. Childcare regulations require a 1:4 ratio of daycare staff to babies. We think that 1:4 is too high a ratio to maintain all day long: four awake, active children is too many for a teacher, even a well trained teacher, to consistently provide the level of individualization we think is optimal. That’s why while we always maintain the 1:4 staffing ratio, we aim to have a 1:3 ratio of awake children to staff for most of the day. In part, this is possible because in our mixed-age (3 months to around 18-24 months) infant rooms, children nap on their own schedule, and typically a few are asleep at any given time. mirror-montessori-infant-childcareRegulations also require daycare staff to have 12 ECUs (early childhood education units.) Often, that’s the extent of the education and training you’ll find at daycare facilities. We again do not think that’s enough! Research shows that the education level and intelligence of your baby’s primary care provider has a huge impact on his intellectual, social and physical development. You know from your experience as a parent that you often need to think on your feet; that parenting is easier if you have a clear idea of your goals, and the approaches to childrearing you want to follow. That’s why each LePort infant room is led by a university-educated teacher who has also completed the rigorous one-year, Assistant to Infancy training at an AMI training center, or an equivalent MACTE-accredited training program. In addition to this training for the lead teacher, most of the other infant teachers in your child’s room are also college graduates—and all of them are intelligent, observant, and nurturing individuals whom we’ve handpicked for our program! Click here to read more about the attributes we look for when hiring your baby’s first teacher.

Your top 6 questions about infant childcare, answered

The decision to leave your baby in someone else’s care is probably about as anxiety-provoking as any decision you’ll have to face as a parent. At LePort we speak with many new parents who struggle with the thought even once they’ve made the choice to enroll. It’s not until their baby is actually settled and happy in the program for a few weeks that the stress fully goes away.

But that said, we’ve also noticed that it really helps to put your concerns in words. Doing your research won’t entirely eliminate the emotions, but it will help to know that you’ve asked a lot of questions and are (intellectually at least) comfortable with the answers.

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In our experience, we’ve found there are a series of recurring questions from parents of young babies. To help you ferret out what matters as you discuss your options, we thought we’d summarize the six top questions about childcare for babies we hear all the time, and provide our answers.

    1. If I put my baby in a childcare environment, will he be safe from physical harm and illnesses? With the right childcare arrangements, the answer is a resounding yes! If you entrust your baby to professionals, and choose a childcare program that is designed explicitly around the needs of babies, your child can be at least as safe there as she is at home.LePort’s Montessori infant program offers an environment that is optimally aligned around the needs of babies. Every piece of furniture has rounded edges. Areas where children pull up (and thus may fall down!) are padded with soft floor mats. There are no small objects in the room that could be choking hazards, nor any loose electrical cords. A 1:3 ratio, with four adults in each room, ensures that babies are carefully supervised all the time (although we may flex to a 1:4 ratio when several children are sleeping at one time). When a primary teacher needs a break, a floater will come in to cover, ensuring uninterrupted coverage.

      Obviously, when a group of babies are together in a childcare setting, minimizing the risk of contagious illnesses is important. That’s why our infant areas are professionally cleaned every day. Teachers and parents must wear covers over shoes to enter (or switch into inside shoes.) Food is kept strictly separated, surfaces are wiped down regularly, and teachers engage in and teach proper hand washing practices.

      That said, you should expect your child to have more common colds in childcare than if she were at home alone. If this is a concern, we encourage you to look into how strengthening her immune system actually has many potential benefits.

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    1. Will my baby feel loved? Or will she miss her mom and dad terribly while at childcare? We’ll be the first to admit it: no one can love your baby the way you do! Your special relationship with your child is irreplaceable.That said, we think our teachers are as good a substitute to your presences as possible. We select our teachers not only on their knowledge and expertise, but also on how much they love being with infants. But, of course, seeing is believing: we invite you to contact us to schedule a tour, so you can see for yourself how our teachers interact and nurture the babies in their care.

      From years of experience, we know that it is often easier to transition a child to childcare early, as a baby, than it is to do so later, during the toddler years. Separation anxiety peaks around 12-18 months. By starting your child in the infant program, you can help her to become familiar with her teacher and new environment prior to that critical phase, making things easier for her and for you.

    2. My work commitments require me to leave my child for up to nine hours a day, five days a week. Can your program accommodate my work schedule, and offer quality care to my baby for that much time? No question about it: working full time, while you have an infant, is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do as a parent. You want to be with your baby as much as possible, and rightly so: strong parent-child attachment early on is one key factor to baby’s health.Many parents, though, manage to juggle full-time work and being a great parent. One key factor to being able to attend to work full-time is finding an optimal childcare environment for your baby. We believe LePort does offer such an environment.

      The reason is that we know how critical these early years are, so emphatically offer not just childcare, but a Montessori educational program right from the beginning. We replicate many of the things a parent can offer at home, but that often get short-shrift in a typical childcare center.

      We invite you to read more about what makes our Montessori infant program unique:

      • Learn about what Montessori for infants means, and how it compares to typical childcare.
      • Research trade-offs between hiring a nanny and enrolling your bay in LePort’s Montessori infant program.
      • Understand how we select our infant teachers.

      With the right program, you can leave your child with confidence. We encourage you to do your research!

    3. My baby has a hard time sleeping. How do you manage naps with so many children in one childcare room? Will he get enough sleep to thrive?We’ve come to believe that parents have this concern in part because of the actual practices of daycare facilities. In many infant program settings, there is a strictly enforced group schedule: all babies eat together, assembly-line style. All babies nap together, at the same time. All babies play together.We do not take this approach at LePort. Instead, we work with you to replicate techniques that work best at home for your child’s sleep patterns, while sharing tips from our experts for optimizing your child’s sleep. Our nap rooms provide a dedicated crib or low floor bed for your child in a peaceful place where noise is minimized and tranquility is heightened. While pacifiers are permitted in younger infant environments, to promote independence and oral health we assist children as quickly as possible to wean from any pacifier use. We also help prevent tooth decay by refraining from placing bottles in cribs, or having children fall asleep while drinking a bottle.

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      We will rock or hold a young infant who needs such comforting to fall asleep, while working with the child and parents to encourage self-regulation in sleep habits. Our goal is for your child to recognize sleep as a peaceful opportunity to self-soothe and rest because he or she is tired, just as a child will eat when hungry. If your child arrives asleep in a car seat, he or she will be gently placed in a crib or on a floor bed. Children will have the opportunity to awaken from sleep naturally, rather than being awakened by an adult.

    4. Don’t babies need lots of one-on-one attention during the first year? Will my baby miss out, if he is one of ten or twelve children in a childcare room? Babies absolutely need a lot of attention. That’s one of the reasons why we maintain a 1:3 ratio in our infant program. (When several children are asleep at once, we may flex to the 1:4 ratio typical in other childcare settings.) Still, three babies can seem like a lot for one teacher to love, nurture and cuddle with all day long.We believe a 1:3 ratio is sufficient to allow one-on-one love and nurturing because our whole environment is set up to support our staff and make individualized attention possible. Here are a few things you may want to consider as you decide whether a 1:3 ratio is something you can be comfortable with:

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      • Our individualized program means not all children have the same needs at the same time. Your child’s primary care provider in many cases will not be feeding three children at once. One of her babies may be asleep, while another one is happily playing with one of our many fun activities, leaving her free to focus on your child.
      • Children benefit from some independence, even as babies. Many parents of multiple children will tell you that child #2 has a longer attention span and is more independent. Why? Because she’s never gotten used to having an adult with her, entertaining her every minute of her waking life! Babies actually benefit from the opportunity to explore their environment, to touch things, and to observe, without being actively stimulated by an adult 24/7.
      • Older infants often engage in parallel play with peers. While being left to their own devices at home can leave babies bored, in our rooms, there is so much to look at: other infants playing, care-takers feeding children, older babies crawling around. And once baby can sit up, she’ll often be happy playing alongside another little person: it’s socialization in action!
      • Additional help is always available. We have a trained Head of School, an administrative team, and “floater” teachers onsite who can be called upon for support any time there are needed.

      “It is necessary for the teacher to guide the child without letting him feel her presence too much, so that she may always be ready to supply the desired help, but may never be the obstacle between the child and his experience.”–Dr. Maria Montessori

 

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  1. I’m breastfeeding. How can I keep that up when my baby is in childcare? We support breastfeeding moms to continue breastfeeding as long as is right for you and your baby:
    • Moms are encouraged to bring expressed breast milk to school. We’ll store your milk in our refrigerator, and happily feed it to your child while you are at work.
    • We will adjust your baby’s feeding schedule to support your breastfeeding. Please let us know when you’ll be picking your baby up: that way, we can make sure he’s not just been fed a bottle when you come and are ready to nurse!
    • Moms are always welcome to nurse baby onsite. Our infant rooms all provide comfortable nursing chairs. If you work close by, please feel free to visit during a break, and nurse your baby mid-day.

A sneak-peak into the nido, your baby’s home away from home


Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.
Dr. Maria Montessori

Your baby’s most common waking activity is exploring the wondrous world around him. In this exploration he uses all his senses—touching, tasting, smelling, hearing, and above all, seeing. That’s why we take such care to create the ideal home away from home. In this newsletter, we share some features of this environment, and invite you to learn more about the LePort Montessori infant program.

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Babies are visual beings. A child’s environment should a tranquil, beautiful place, full of natural, appealing materials. If you visit, you’ll notice that our infant rooms seem more like a comfortable home than a typical daycare center! Nowhere at LePort will you find noisy plastic toys or flashing TV screens.


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One of the major goals of a baby’s first year is mobility.  Through exploration, children learn to roll over, crawl, pull themselves up, and eventually walk.  Our infant environments encourage such movement: mirrors make tummy time fun; pull-up bars over soft floors just call for children to stand up, over an over again; stairs invite climbing. We believe infants need to be free to move, and that containers such as jumpers, highchairs, playpens or walkers, which are very common in many daycare settings, have no place in a high-quality infant environment.


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When it comes to feeding, daycare centers often feel like assembly lines: we’ve seen some with six highchair seats around a table, with six infants strapped to their seats while their caretaker feeds them one by one! We think that’s a horrible mistake: eating is a individually paced activity. Babies need to enjoy the eating process, and move at their own pace as they learn to self-feed. The right start to eating habits can help prevent many food issues later on. That’s why our older infants steadily transition from cuddling with a teacher and bottle, to sitting at a low table and chair and enjoying eating with a spoon.


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Diapering is too often something done to a child at daycare, long after he’s capable of participating in the process. In contrast, at LePort we foster early toilet learning and independence. Our changing table is low to the ground, so the child can climb up on it. As soon as a child is able to stand, we change his diaper standing up, in the bathroom area. Low benches help children learn to undress and dress. And we even begin actual toilet training in the infant room!


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During the first two years of life, a baby’s brain will grow dramatically. Our Montessori environment is designed to offer your baby an array of stimulating materials that support his natural cognitive growth. We offer beautiful, captivating mobiles to observe and admire. Low shelves are filled with wooden and fabric materials that encourage fine-motor coordination and cause/effect experimentation: puzzles, balls, rings on a post, containers to open and close, and more.


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Research shows that one of the most important predictors of a baby’s language development is the frequency and quality of the communication with teachers. Our highly educated, engaging teachers are masters at providing high-quality language models for your child—they love talking to and with your child. And they know the importance of offering a lot of vocabulary in the right way—tailored to your child’s interest of the moment, to capture his interest and optimally support his language development.


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Sleep schedules can be a nightmare if not managed thoughtfully. We believe in following the child: we customize a consistent routine of eating, activity and naps to each child’s rhythm. None of the enforced group naps that are all too common in other daycare settings! As children start to walk, we transition them to low cots, so they can learn to search out a quiet place when tired, and acquire the self-soothing skills they need to be good sleepers, well-rested for all the exploring going on in our infant rooms.


We’ve created an environment we’d love to see our own babies in every day—one where an infant will find warmth, stimulation, and safety, and where a parent will be informed and respected,  We hope you agree, and that you’ll allow us to invite you to tour one of our schools, and see a Montessori infant classroom at its best, in action.