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I am a home schooling mom to three amazing kiddos.  We primarily use the Montessori pedagogy to guide our journey.  We also enjoy aspects of classical education and are part of Classical Conversations community. 

I write a Montessori column for Practical Homeschooling Magazine.

I am still a geek at heart and at times miss my former career as an Information Architect/SharePoint Specialist.  I don't have much free time but if I do, it is spent on comic books and video games.
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You are here: Home / An Infant in the Primary Classroom

An Infant in the Primary Classroom

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While there are infant classrooms within Montessori, our classroom is most certainly not designed with an infant in mind.  At the moment I have two in primary and a 14 month old.  While that alone is challenge enough, my 14 month old is a severe hemophiliac with multiple life-threatening allergies.  Yes, it makes school time a challenge at points.

My first line of defense is holding school while he naps.  That doesn't happen near as often as I would like.  Even if it is accomplished, it generally doesn't last the entire work period.  As un-Montessori as it sounds, I have tried various containment methods.  I have a play yard in the room.  He's content with that for about 3.4 minutes.  I'm trying a new method which includes a booster seat at a table.  I'm not sure it is going to pan out much better.

While I do my best to normalize him to the room, he's too young to expect much.  He's also too active to keep in one place now.  While part of me misses the days when he was content staring at mobiles, I do enjoy his tenacity for life.  I have a range of Montessori infant works.  However, it's the primary works that demand his attention.

If he can correctly respect a work I will let him explore.  He enjoys the pink tower and the knobbed cylinders.  However, it often degenerates into a shelf-ripping rampage.  He also does not understand boundaries when it comes to the other children's work.  And of course, he's still in the mouthing phase.  The biggest concern I have overall is that he will get hurt in a moment when I am distracted while giving a presentation.

I have come up with a few modifications around the classroom, most of which I cannot take credit for.  During my training course at a local school, the instructor mentioned that they often put works with smaller pieces in containers that a younger child cannot open.  It isn't he perfect solution, nor is it complete, but it is working for now.  I will continue to post updates as I come up wit new ways to make the room compatible for all ages.

The practical life section is the most enticing by far.  I've removed any number of plastic leaves, beads and metal nuts/bolts from Lockelan's mouth.  My new system involves latching boxes around the biggest offenders.  Yes, he can still throw the boxes on the floor and disturb the work.  However, he can't get them open.  Amazingly enough, the boxes seem to make the work more intriguing to the older two.


Here you can see a box that has been unlatched.  The entire tray fits inside.


In some cases I only put the smaller pieces in a container.  This is a sorting tray.  The items to be sorted are in a latching container. (And yes I set it on another work.  Sorry if that is confusing.)


Here is the container when open.  It requires unlatching all four sides.


After much debating with myself, I decide to reorder the math shelves.  Generally, all shelves are arranged in difficulty from left to right, top to bottom.  This help reinforce the order of reading.  The problems is that it put the items with the smallest pieces, such as the golden beads, on the bottom shelf.... because I may be tired of picking up all the tiles from the hundred board.  Now those items are completely out of reach.


In addition to the latch boxes, I like the plastic containers with screw on lids.  This holds one of our language works.


I use smaller latching containers for the items I deem more dangerous to a hemo-baby as well.  This is the stapler.


And of course, scissors!


So those are a few of the steps I've taken to try to protect my little guy.  I'd love to hear any ideas you have. As I mentioned above, this is a work in progress for us.  I'll continue to give updates on what does and doesn't work.
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