Montessori 0-3 Environment, Washington DC

In July, 2023 I was an AMI examiner at the Washington Montessori Institute near Washington DC. I am sharing a few pictures of the lovely environment to inspire anyone creating such at home or in Infant Communities.

“Nido” (Italian for “nest”) is the name denoting the environment for the first year of life. It considers the physical, mental, and emotional needs for this age – such as the need for a secure attachment, appropriate mobiles, a floor bed, beginning toilet learning, clothing that supports independence and movement, and the celebration of the first meal where the infant participates as much as possible.



Learning to independently wash hands, comb or brush hair, and use a mirror to blow one’s nose

“Dressing Frames” teach the necessary skills to tie, button, and dress oneself; caring for shoes, and pouring water into a pitcher, and then into a glass, whenever thirsty


“A place for everything and everything in its place” including brooms and mops, everything connected with washing cloths, and a lovely little set to wipe up spills.

Food combines the practical life areas of caring for self, care of the environment, and graceful movement and courtesy, and of course language.  Notice the unique and lovely cutting boards, and carefully prepared table setting, and group table that the children care for independently.

The adult—as model of tone of voice, courtesy, vocabulary, listening, telling personal and cultural stories, and reading books, sharing poems, nursery rhymes, finger plays, and nursery rhymes—is the most important “language material” in the Nido and Infant Community. Real objects are presented before models and pictures. And both music and art are introduced as languages of their own.

The very best in art materials and percussion instruments that one can afford inspires creativity and a love of art and music, and more movement and language is provided through dance, recordings, pictures, and books.

There is work and exploration in both the outside and the inside environments. Animals are best observed and cared for in nature, and wild examples of plants, including weeds, are just as important as garden plants. Above is a table for arranging flowers to place around the room, a cupboard with everything needed to plant seeds, and a place to make herb tea.

All of the nature and culture exposure is based on the children’s own culture and country.

Puzzles and manipulative toys provide skills in eye-hand control and mental concepts, but these should only be about 10% of the environment because practical life and language is the main work, followed by arts and sciences.

Notice that there is only one chair for each table. Here, and in the primary and elementary classrooms, this is one of the most important ways to help support focus and deep concentration, which is the hallmark of authentic Montessori practice. Other aids to concentration include working on floor mats (rather than always at tables) and teaching children how to check to see if a person is concentrating before talking to them or interrupting (always by example of the adult, and by giving lessons at primary class age).

EXAMS AND NEW 0-3 BOOK, The Joyful Child
Here I am waiting for a student for an oral exam. In the middle picture are Dora Vidales from Mexico City, the director of this training course, me as national examiner, and Judi Orion the AMI examiner. Both the written exam questions and the AMI examiner are sent from the headquarters in Amsterdam so there can be no “teaching to the test” or favorite students. Even the trainer and the environment are being examined to maintain quality.

In the early 1900’s Dr. Montessori’s work was spread around the world, quite often not with the hoped for results. So in 1929 Dr. Montessori created AMI, The Association Montessori International, to maintain and continue to improve, the training of teacher. It takes a minimum of eight years after university to quality as an AMI teacher trainer. And the program is constantly under supervision and being improved to deal with the world as it continues to change.

The Joyful Child book, based on AMI 0-3 practice, is the 10th anniversary edition. It offers parents, and educators of children and adults at any age, an overview of the first three years of life from a Montessori perspective, based on work since 1947 when the 0-3, Assistants to Infancy, course was created in Rome, Italy.

Above is the QR code and link for more information about this and other books: BOOKS

After the exams, and for three days before flying to Vancouver BC, Canada for an incredible event created by neuroscientist Adele Diamond, I was able to spend time with Rita Zener, old friend and AMI teacher trainer. She took me to the International Student House where I lived in 1976-1977 while taking the AMI 6-12 teacher training course. It is still as beautiful as ever and a lovely place for international graduate students to form community.

I hope you enjoy reading and sharing this blog post.
Take care,



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