Morning drop-off at our Roosevelt campus is always a whirlwind of activity as the infants and toddlers begin their day. Gia smiles and waves shyly but walks in with ease. Elli stops to point everything out in the lobby, enjoying the stroll to his room. Tiny Phia grasps at her own hands and becomes more alert as she begins to drink in the world around her. Each child settles into their routine within a space they see as welcoming and safe.
Alcuin Montessori has had an infant or toddler program of some sort since the 1990s, but our full-time, all-year program officially launched in October 2019 at our brand new Roosevelt campus. Apart from all-star care, this DCFS-licensed program provides learning experiences in an environment that is cheerful, inviting, and rich with opportunities to explore. Alcuin is not a daycare, but rather a school with a full Montessori curriculum.
Toddlers explore their burgeoning independence while they work on care of self and their environment. Classroom shelves are low and easily accessible with beautiful works that encourage exploration. They learn to dress themselves, help one another with zippers and coats, bus their dishes, tend to the classroom plants, and lovingly wash the baby doll. There is a steady hum of activity as busy hands get to work. Toddlers develop their cognitive skills while they focus for long periods and sit, wholly engaged, in whatever lesson they are receiving.
For infants, the setting is homelike with soft rugs, a rocking chair, books arrayed on low shelves, and toys in baskets. The space is organized and uncluttered. The infants explore the cylinder blocks, push toys, and manipulate objects. They begin to work on drinking from a cup—not a sippy cup, but a child-sized cup. Gross motor work includes bars for pulling up, mirrors to reflect body movement, a sleeping area with individual cribs, and child-sized tables and chairs rather than high chairs. It’s a beautiful world curated with them in mind.
Infant and toddler’s brain develop more quickly during their first three years than at any other time, and this incredible time in their lives sets the foundation for their absorbent mind and all future learning. Their minds absorb! The children watch and grow. They form strong relationships with their teachers and the other children, and learn to love their community.
Part of my time spent at Alcuin is checking in the infant and toddler children every day. I do their health screenings and walk them into their classrooms. It is my favorite part of the morning. Vair waves goodbye to his father as he rushes to class to take off his outside shoes all by himself. Cleo insists on carrying the heavy snack bags, even though it is quite the feat. Zel, who is still somewhat new, strides in—her confidence growing more and more each day. Oh, to have the amount of self-trust, enthusiasm, and strength our infants and toddlers display—the smallest of role models; small but mighty. We could learn a lot from them.
Director of Admissions and Advancement
To learn more about our infant and toddler program, please contact Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A blog by various Alcuin staff members.