Practicum: Duration and Models for Infant and Toddler Interns
There are three practicum models to choose from at the Infant and Toddler Level. In each case the student must work in an approved Montessori classroom for a minimum of 540 hours over a nine-month period to obtain focused practical experience with the age group listed.
Model 1: Infant Concentration (birth to 18 months)
Model 2: Toddler Concentration (18 months to 3 years)
Model 3: Infant and Toddler (birth to 3 years)
During the summer academic phase of the program, you will receive additional information on the practicum but the information below will help you look for a site now if you do not already have one.
Choosing a Practicum Site
The responsibility of contacting schools and locating a qualified practicum site is yours. MEIPN does not operate any Montessori schools. To have the most options, it is wise to make arrangements for your site as soon as possible, preferably prior to starting the course. Choosing a practicum site will present different challenges to each individual. Some will have already signed an agreement with a school prior to enrolling in the course. Others will have visited several schools and will have applications in process as their first and second choices. For students located in this area, one resource is the Pacific Northwest Montessori Association’s website which lists names and contact information for their member schools.
After familiarizing yourself with the requirements listed below, consult MEIPN to see if your school is approved or if it needs a visit from MEIPN.
NOTE: Students who select a practicum site located more than fifty miles from the course location or the nearest field consultant will be charged an additional fee (mileage, bridge and ferry tolls, overnight lodging and meals) to cover reasonable transportation expenses.
Practicum Site Requirements
The basic requirement is that the school be financially stable, hold appropriate state licenses, and have and observe a nondiscrimination policy. It is recommended that the site is an AMS member school, and that the school and head teacher are willing to take on the extra responsibilities having an intern requires. The teacher under whom you will work must be AMS or MACTE certified for the correct age group and be in at least the second year of teaching following receipt of credential.
AGE RANGE: The practicum site must have the full age range for which the student is seeking certification. A toddler class must have children from 18 – 36 months of age.
UNINTERRUPTED WORK TIME: The classroom must observe the AMS recommendations for uninterrupted work time.
In Infant and Toddler classes this means in general that each child’s individual schedule should be followed, although there may be some group times such as meals for older children and a short circle time each day. Infant and Toddler days should not be geared to adult-imposed schedules but rather should allow children to eat, sleep, care for themselves and explore in response to their own needs.
CLASS SIZE: A minimum of 12 students, Infant and Toddler classes may follow state ratios.
MATERIALS: The classroom should have furniture scaled to the age of the children and the full complement of developmentally appropriate materials, purchased and teacher-made, appropriate to the age level. See the AMS website for a list of suggested materials.
RESPONSIBILITIES: The school administrator must understand the responsibilities of the school and the head teacher. For example, interns are required to assist their head teachers in classroom maintenance, clean-up, preparation (such as filling paint jars, etc.), but are not expected to perform all the janitorial work for the school. Interns are not allowed to take full responsibility for a class to cover absences of the head teacher.
RELEASE TIME: Schools must permit students to take time off from their classrooms to complete required program responsibilities, such as seminars and observations. The school is not required to pay interns when they are not performing their duties at the school.
In cases which warrant it, exemptions to the requirements for AMS/MACTE training for the head teacher may be applied for to the Director. In general, only circumstances such as remote location or personal hardship would warrant exemptions.
The relationship between the school and the intern is an employer-employee relationship, which should be spelled out in full in a written agreement. The agreement should cover pay and benefits, responsibilities (including supervision times, such as recess or lunch, and participation in after-school activities, if expected), illness policy, material-making policy, etc. The internship is a paid position, ordinarily taxable. Pay should be negotiated between the two parties. MEIPN and the intern should receive copies of this agreement.
Supervised and Self-directed Interns
Practicum visits are intended to provide support and feedback to the student. They are most effective if you follow instructions given in class for advance preparation. Students should view these visits as opportunities to ask questions and discuss concerns with an experienced Montessori professional. In our experience, most students feel somewhat apprehensive about the visits before the practicum begins, but during the actual practicum, they are glad to get the help and support of MEIPN supervisors! You may also get shorter contacts from the program, in the form of brief, “drop-in” visits, emails, or telephone calls.