The Infant Community will be the first environment your toddler will encounter after the family or the Nest. It is natural that you will look for a place that is safe, with the warmth of home, where your child will have a positive experience, will feel comfortable, will be loved, appreciated and respected. In this environment she will be able to interact with other children and will have all the appropriate stimuli as well as the necessary encouragement to develop her capacity for independence and curiosity in a climate of joy and trust, which the Infant Community offers.
In fact, the Infant Community differs greatly from the Nest for it supports the needs of the toddler from the moment it starts walking steadily, until approximately the age of three.
Your infant now needs to actively explore her space. She has a natural curiosity and she wants to learn about her world. She is now able to do many things on her own: she can run, she can hold things in her hands, she can listen and she can speak. The especially prepared environment of the Infant Community is a safe space – it is an orderly and beautiful environment – where every infant will have the freedom to choose from the specific educational materials which satisfy her inner needs.
This educational material consists of activities for the education of the senses, wooden games with rings, posting boxes with a variety of slits, a pasting box, lots of activities taken from our everyday lives, lots of objects taken from the real world to be used for the development of language, classified cards and books, music activities using cd’s and musical instruments and art activities, including drawing with chalk, water colours and clay. Having access to such a rich environment contributes significantly to your infant’s physical and emotional well-being.
Your child will also spend her day in the company of the Assistants to Infancy and other children and through her observations and her own experiences she will learn the basic rules of social behaviour. For example, she will see that when we meet someone we can greet him by saying: “Good morning!” When we want something she will learn that we can ask for it and not just grab it, and she will see how we learn to wait our turn patiently.
As her independence develops, she will begin to participate more and more in the care of her space. She will gradually begin to develop the feeling that she can rely on herself, and as a consequence she will acquire self-esteem and an awareness of her environment and her place within it. She becomes willing to care for herself, to wash her hands before a meal, to wipe her nose, to comb her hair and to respectfully care for the space she is in. These little toddlers become vigilant guardians of the objects that surround them and they develop a strong sense of order. They love to sweep and mop the floor, to wash their cups, to clean windows, to water the plants, to wash cloths and then hang them up to dry.
The task of the Assistants to Infancy is to help infants express the love they have for their environment and to help them care for it – something which they do with such joy and enthusiasm! The children do not consider that the work they do for others should be rewarded in any way. The reward that these little toddlers get is the satisfaction from doing the work itself! They serve themselves and their friends lunch. What joy and gratification they feel when they cook bread for the whole community, and how proud they feel when they say “Yes, I did it all on my own!”
Toddlers now want to do everything by themselves and the Infant Community gives them that opportunity. Here the children learn to care for themselves, to dress and undress, to put on their shoes, to put on their coats when it is time to go out into the garden and to know where to hang them when they come back indoors. They know how to pour water and to drink when they are thirsty. They are free to move wherever they want to go, from the cooking area to the bathroom, from the garden to the cloakroom, always deciding for themselves the activities that they wish to do.
The children will be able to go outdoors into their beautiful garden whenever they wish since it is very important that they spend part of their day in nature. Here, apart from developing an awareness and appreciation of nature, they will be able to run and climb and develop their physical equilibrium. But they will also be able to plant seeds, to tend to their vegetables and plants, and even observe a ladybird or a butterfly wing. Nature is a perfect work of art and the infant must be given the chance to enjoy it – to sit on pretty little benches and to notice how a cloud moves across the sky, or how a sparrow hops from branch to branch!