Montessori coined the infant environment the Nido, or nest, environment. She saw it as a safe and nurturing place in which infants learn to trust and explore the world and the social community around them. She recognized these early positive interactions as crucial to the overall well-being of the child and the development of their full potential. As in all Montessori classrooms, the preparation of the environment and consistency are hallmarks.
Montessori Academy of Naples infant environment is a tasteful, engaging, and uncluttered environment that is well-planned and prepared for the community of children by a Montessori-trained adult. There are cribs, of course, a state requirement, but they are only used for sleeping, never for play or to restrict or contain a child’s movement. There are no highchairs, walkers or suspended seats, no pacifiers, no sippy-cups or paper plates, there are no posters on the walls. Instead, you will see framed works of art, and child-sized tables and chairs for dining with real plates and glasses. Children too young to sit up on their own and those still requiring a bottle, are fed in the arms of a caring adult. You will see a large mirror hung at floor level to observe oneself and the environment from different angles and there is a teak rocking chair for shared moments. As for the absence of pacifiers, they are unnecessary. Comforting an infant and helping them move beyond dependency is an adult’s responsibility and an important part of how the child learns to connect with and trust others.
You will also see reachable shelves with activities that entice and encourage observation and movement and meet an array of developmental aims such as: developing focus, perceptual skills, and expression; encouraging reaching, and fine motor development; and demonstrating cause and effect relationships, and permanence. You will see books on the bookshelf. You will see a balance board, a rocking horse, and a small push cart to perfect balance and walking. A critical component of the environment is the interaction between the adult and the child. The development of trust and language, and the connection to both the physical and social environment depends on this bond. These fundamental life skills are developed through the respectful and natural interactions of the adult and child at mealtime and changings, through listening, talking, comforting, reading, playing, singing, going for a walk or, when they venture independently, quietly conveying someone is there whenever needed. The Montessori Nido, or nest, serves as a safe and reassuring beginning.