The main hall at the Contact Centre provides an attractive and appealing environment, which is carefully prepared to aid development and to promote independence within a calm and ordered space. The equipment and resources are scaled down so as to be easily used and manipulated by small pairs of hands; the children are able to select the activities which appeal to them from easily -accessible open shelving.
Montessori Infant Community
First day/settling in process
We recognise that, for many children starting at the Montessori Infant Community, this may the first time that they have been separated from their main carer.
All children are unique and the amount of time that a child takes to settle into the Infant Community can vary enormously. Therefore, children will be given time to settle in at their own pace, so as to make them feel welcome, safe and confident in this environment.
Each child will be assigned a key person, whose role it is to: help the children assigned to them to settle, oversee their progress and development and liaise with those children’s parents/carers. However, all staff will supervise children new to the setting to ensure that they are happy in their new surroundings. The appropriate level of such supervision will be judged according to the child’s age and previous experiences but we recognise that some children may require 1:1 attention during the settling in period and this will be given if needed.
Parents/carers will be emailed an ‘Information on Entry’ form immediately prior to their child’s entry to the Infant Community for completion. The information contained within this form helps staff to get to know the likes/dislikes and needs of each individual child and therefore to enable them to respond to these during the settling in period.
When parents/carers drop their children off, some prefer to leave straightaway and others prefer to settle their child at an activity first. This is a matter of personal preference. Whichever approach is taken, however, it is recommended that parents/carers do say ‘goodbye’ to their child (even though this may risk a few temporary tears). Children become more distressed if they find that their parent/carer has just disappeared.
Parent/carers will be offered the opportunity to stay with their child for the first couple of sessions if they wish to do so.
Thereafter, if they are concerned that their child is not yet ready to settle by him/herself, they may either:
- remain with their child for some further sessions; or
- remain with their child for part of a session and then take their child home, gradually (over several sessions) lengthening the time that the child remains at the Infant Community; or
- leave their child for a short period of time, gradually (over several sessions) lengthening the time that the child is without them.
The manager will be able to advise what might suit the parent/carer and child in question, however we recognise that parents/carers know their children best and we will ultimately be guided by what each family deems appropriate in their circumstances.
If parents choose to stay with their child, we would ask that you please:
- sign yourself in and out in the Visitors Book upon entering and leaving the Infant Community;
- leave handbags/bags and any coats etc. in a safe location which the staff will show you – they should not be left where the children might access them;
- refrain from using mobile phones whilst in the Infant Community. If you need to make or take a phone call, staff will show you where you may do so. The taking of photographs and videos (even of your own child) is not permitted;
- sit where staff have indicated that you may sit and observe your child from that position. Adults in a Montessori environment should be as unobtrusive as possible and therefore we ask that you do not wander around the environment or initiate any interaction with the children please;
- do not eat or drink whilst in the Infant Community. This is important because some of the children who attend the Infant Community may have food allergies. Hot drinks are not allowed because of the risk of scalding.
At the end of the first, second and third weeks, the manager will email the parent/carer to say how they feel the child is settling in if there has not been time to discuss this in person at the beginning or end of a session.
If it seems that a child is taking a long time to settle in, this will be discussed with their parent/carers at the earliest opportunity. Likewise, if a parent/carer feels that there is a problem during the settling in period, they should raise this with a member of staff. If a child is very distressed, the manager will inform the parent/carer by telephone so that the child can be collected early.
Staff will always be available to discuss any concerns or other issues with parent/carers regarding their child and their attendance at the Infant Community. If the parent/carers wish to meet with the manager, they should make an appointment to come in for a chat.
The Contact Centre,
60 Hambalt Road,
London SW4 9EH
We welcome children from 12 – 30/36 months
Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30 – 12:00
Optional additional sessions:
Mondays 9:30 – 12:00
Please bring the following with you on your child’s first day at the Infant Community:
- A full set of spare clothes, clearly labelled, in a labelled bag
- Extra clothing for the ‘bottom half’, which is more likely to need changing.
- Nappies and wipes, or extra pants, as appropriate.
- A pair of labelled comfortable indoor shoes. These should be of a kind that your child can put on and take off by her/himself. Crocs plimsolls and slippers with adjustable Velcro straps are popular choices
- If your child has any special dietary requirements/food allergies, please provide a list of foods to avoid.
The child’s conquest of independence begins with his first introduction to life.
Dr Maria Montessori