Preparation Guidelines for Children Transitioning from Caterpillar room to Hummingbird room

When babies turn one year old and are able to walk comfortably they are able to transition to our younger toddler’s community – the Hummingbird room. The caterpillar room caters to the individual needs of the children however two to three months before the babies approach their first birthday; our teachers begin to prepare them to enter one of our two toddler communities. We would like to share some suggestions with you to enable a smooth transition as well as sharing some expectations for transitioning up to the larger classroom.

As we prepare for this shift of schedule for your child, we would greatly appreciate your assistance in helping your child adjust to the new routines over the weekend and on holidays. Your child’s eating schedule will similarly match the toddler communities – breakfast until 8 am, followed by morning snack between 9:30 am – 10 am. Lunch is served around 11:30 am which is followed by a two hour nap time.

Napping: At one year of age children are transitioned from napping in the crib to a toddler cot. Your child’s napping schedule will gradually align with the toddler community which is one two hour or longer nap after lunch throughout the day thereby eliminating the morning nap.

Footwear: Children in most Montessori schools keep one pair of shoes exclusively for classroom use and use another pair for use on the playground and to wear home. The children at LMS do the same. We encourage our children to wear their shoes independently once they have been shown how to. Sitting on the floor, figuring out how to balance and then slide the foot into the shoes, requires immense brain development which comes with practice. As the young child is learning these skills, we want to provide them with materials which can be easily manipulated and mastered.

Indoor Shoes: With indoor shoes, our goal is for the child to wear soft and easy to wear classroom shoe. Please do not send shoes with laces – as they are not appropriate for toddlers with laces getting undone often. Shoes that are easily maneuvered by children are best. Crocs although easy as a slip on work OK, but do not grip the foot quite satisfactorily. Soft star shoes like the one shown are designed for Montessori environments and do provide room for growing feet. They are easy to take off and put on and very comfy. Please visit www.softstarshoes.com if you are interested.

Outdoor Shoes: Sturdy shoes which provide a good grip on the sole work best for fledgling walkers. Please send shoes that are appropriate for toddlers to wear independently – slip on shoes and shoes with Velcro on straps work best. Please do not send shoes with laces for toddlers as undone shoe laces can be a tripping hazard for children and often even double knots do unravel.

Please send indoor and outdoor shoes for your child the week s/he transitions from the caterpillar room to one of our toddler rooms

Pacifiers: Since children are active in our toddler communities and we encourage independence and verbal communication, please do not send pacifiers to school. Pacifiers are not used in the Hummingbird room at all so please do not leave them in your child’s bag either. Please refer to our document “Pacifier Use in Montessori Toddler Communities”.

Meal Times: Lunch and snack are communally consumed and we encourage our children to eat by themselves. Please show your child how to hold a fork (first) and aim for the mouth. Initially, you will need to assist your child by holding the fork and guide the hand to find the mouth to place food in. This is a very difficult concept for a nine/ten month old, but with practice it gets easier. For the first few weeks, please assist your child by stabbing the food (which is cut up in bite sized pieces). After several weeks of practice, your child will be able to eat independently. Often, babies will hold the fork in one hand and use their fingers to eat! This is a normal part of the learning process which will gradually dissipate as the child turns older. Once your child is successful in using the fork, you may then introduce the spoon – which takes a bit longer to manipulate. Throwing food on the floor and
intentionally dropping items and food during meal times in very normal and part of the learning process and normal brain development. Please allow these experiences to your child!

Once your child has been introduced to a variety of foods and if you have introduced mashed up or finely chopped table food to your child, we encourage you to send it to school – however, please ensure that the food is cooked well (soft) and IS NOT DISC OR SHEPERICAL shaped. Meal times are very busy for the teachers and food sent from home must be finely chopped up and ready to warm and serve.

PLEASE DO NOT SEND THESE FOODS TO SCHOOL UNLESS THEY HAVE BEEN FINELY CHOPPED OR DICED:

Grapes, berries, bananas, sausages, cooked carrots, parsnips, apples, pears etc. or any food which is disc; round or chunk shaped – must be sent to school finely chopped as it can be a choking hazard. Please send fresh food for your child daily and when s/he transitions to the humming bird room.

Finely diced food for serving babies.

Please label every container of food for your child – BREAKFAST, AM SNACK, LUNCH, PM SNACK

Please send a variety of foods from home once they have been introduced to the child. Please ensure that you have first introduced the new food to your child at home prior to sending it to LMS and noted no intolerance or allergic reaction. Please chop the food finely or send soft foods which your child can eat with a fork or fingers.

Please find below some suggestions and ideas to send meals for children under eighteen months:

  • Fresh fruit or veggie infused homemade pancakes
  • Beans and rice (soft cooked) with finely diced veggies
  • Tender chopped meat in light gravy (so meat remains moist), chicken fingers must be chopped up
  • Noodles/pasta with a variety of finely chopped veggies and meat lightly sauced, Mac n Cheese, ravioli
  • Variety of muffins with healthy added ingredients
  • Veggie and cheese omelets, thick shredded cheese, scrambled eggs
  • Tofu cooked with seasonings – when pureed can provide a sauce base to pasta, can also be cubed and
    cooked – its mild enough that some children really enjoy it – and it’s a highly digestible protein
  • Jelly on bite sized buttered bread pieces, soft grilled cheese bite sized, buttered soft toast squares,
  • Eggs, cheese, sausage bite size, biscuits or English muffins
  • Baked or boiled pieces of potatoes, sweet potatoes, avocado, sliced olives
  • Veggie burger, meat loaf, veggie loaf, meat or veg balls
  • Unsweetened/uncolored/nut free cereal – cheerios
  • Homemade fruit Pudding, fruit yogurt (low sugar)

Drinking from an Open Cup: In both of our toddler communities, children are taught how and are encouraged to drink from an open cup. Our caterpillar room teachers start teaching this skill to children around nine months of age and we request that parents also work on it at home. As children get older and if they have already been introduced to a sippy cup, they will sometimes refuse to learn how to use an open face cup. We encourage parents to start working on this skill at the same time as our caterpillar teachers do to complement their efforts and to teach your child quickly and effortlessly.

Begin by offering a teaspoon of water in a very small cup (shot glass or sake size cup works best). Hold your child’s hands and show her/him how to lift the cup to the mouth and gently tip a little bit of water to make it a successful experience. Please practice this multiple times a day and encourage your child to sit and drink. Although this seems a very simple task to adults, it is a very complex process for the young child. Many, many neural connections have to be made to master this skill and these can only take place through repetition when the child feels successful and becomes motivated to learn. After a few weeks, depending on your child’s progress, you may increase the water to a couple of teaspoons and then to a tablespoon or more depending your child’s ability.

Drinking fluids from an open faced cup requires a lot of patience and practice initially, but we are encouraging the child to learn a lifelong skill. Although sippy cups are prevalent in our society, they delay the child’s learning process and add one more impediment to learning self-care. Children are always keenly observing adults and seeking ways to imitate us – which is a normal human tendency. Although sippy cups are convenient to use, they are acceptable to use during traveling. They help to eliminate spills and the adult’s need to clean up a mess, however, they do not teach the child the skill of learning to drink from an open cup independently.

Sign Language: An important component of our toddler communities – sign language empowers children to communicate with their teachers before they are able to do so verbally. The caterpillar room caregivers teach children some basic signs to communicate wants and needs. Please refer to the chart below to teach some basic signs which are used in class and will also be used in the toddler communities – please practice HELP and WATER at home with your child they are used extensively throughout the day.

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