Welcome to the All Roads Learning Community!

We’re looking forward to getting to know you and your family. Our mission at All Roads is to provide a loving and nurturing space for children to explore, grow, learn, and connect with other children and adults in the context of the Montessori philosophy and pedagogy. What follows are some guidelines that when followed, will make our journey together a positive and successful one. Please contact the Program Director with questions and comments you may have.

History of the Montessori Infant Community

Dr. Maria Montessori is known for her educational work with children living in the slums of San Lorenzo, Italy. Montessori, Italy’s first woman doctor, first gained notoriety because of the work she had done with children who had been deemed ‘ineducatable’. Dr. Montessori created an environment and method based on her observations of the children, and they ended up reading and writing at a level that surpassed those of their 'normal' couterparts.

Montessori was then recruited to tame the children in the tenements of San Lorenzo, during the daytime hours while their parents worked. Montessori developed a philosophy and pedagogy based on her observations of how children learn. Montessori is an educational paradigm based in movement and active learning, and views the child as competent and driven by their own life force to fill their own developmental needs. The Montessori classroom is truly a teacher and prepared with great thought and deliberation.

Doctor Maria Montessori wrote about the great importance of the fist six years of life, but in particular about the significance of the first three years of life. While Montessori’s primary body of research is applied to children between 3 and 6 years, she gave great ponderance to the needs of the youngest child.

In 1948 Adele Costa Gnocchi, a philosophy professor and student of Maria Montessori, developed an interest in the awesome abilities of children from birth to three years of age, and developed the Assistants to Infancy course in close consultation with Maria Montessori. The training courses have continued and expanded until today; there have been training courses in many countries, including The United Kingdom, The United States, Japan and Australia. The training course includes an intense lecture schedule on educational theory, obstetrics, nutrition, and child development, guided practice in creating and presenting the educational materials, many hours of observations, and over 1,600 hours of practice teaching and self reflection/evaluation.


After you have visited All Roads, and determined us to be a great fit for your family, you may secure a space for your child. This requires that you fill out and return the following forms. Forms, relevant fees and tuition must be received prior to your child’s first day at All Roads.

  • Enrollment Application with the $200.00 enrollment fee
  • Deposit of $250.00 (refundable after three months of attendance)
  • Emergency contact form
  • Questionnaire
  • Feeding plan for children under twelve months old
  • USDA Enrollment Form
  • First month tuition

In addition, Immunization forms or exceptions must be returned within thirty days of attending. If we are at capacity, you may choose to add your name to the waiting list. We will accept your application and enrollment fee with the anticipation of enrolling your child within three months. When a space becomes available, you will get thirty days notice to either enroll or forfeit your deposit. If space does not become available within three months, you will have the option of collecting your deposit and exploring other childcare options. While the enrollment fee is not refundable, the deposit is.

This is the only circumstance in which a deposit is refundable without enrolling your child.


All Roads offers a year round program. The monthly tuition is based on an annual fee and broken down into twelve payments due on the first of each month. Please see the fee schedule for a complete breakdown of the tuitions.

All Roads is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. We are closed in observance of Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and the following Friday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, President’s Day, the Thursday and Friday preceding Memorial Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, the day before and after Independence Day and Labor Day. Should any of these holidays fall on a weekend, the closure will be on a weekday closest to the holiday. The day before the Thanksgiving and Winter holidays are half-days, with dismissal for the entire class at 12:00 p.m. In order to best prepare the classroom to meet the ever-changing needs of the community, All Roads closes for eight Staff In-service days each year, to be announced in the September calendar. We also close twice a year in order to connect with parents for conferences. All Roads closes for a winter break, spring break, and the first week of August. Most breaks follow the PPS schedule and are announced in the fall.

Arrival and Departure

Attachment and Separation

Montessori education maintains that children must undergo a process of attachments and separations from birth, in order to become an individual: separate and independent within the society and environment. Life is a continual process of attachment and separation; the child strives toward independence from the beginning. In order to best assist children toward independence, we must provide a strong base, loving and supportive, for attachment. It is only from this strong loving base that the child can reach out into the world, and to return a healthy, confident individual. Because we want to best prepare your child for what is usually their first independent journey outside the home, we have a very thoughtful transition process. After you have visited us in the morning without your child, and decide that All Roads is a good fit for your family, we ask that you return for an afternoon visit with your child. We schedule several short afternoon visits, as well as a home visit. We want your child to feel comfortable and secure with their new teachers.

The day before your child comes to school on their own, we host a one hour morning visit, where one parent sits in our classroom, and allows their child to explore independently, but return to the parent when they need reassurance. Usually, we do this morning visit on a Tuesday, so that the following Wednesday, Thursday and Friday may be short days, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Most children enter the classroom with very little help from the teachers. But sometimes, the transition into and out of school can be a challenge for both parents and children. Arrivals and departures can also add stress to the group, which is why we ask that parents support our schedule by arriving and departing consistent with the published arrival and dismissal times. It can be helpful to establish a routine for arriving and departing. Like Mister Rogers, we change into our inside shoes or socks, and hang up our outerwear. Arrival and dismissal are good times to slow down to your child’s pace. Inviting your child to do as much for themselves to get ready to come into the classroom while supporting them in this process can be a nice way to make a ritual out of the transition. Leaving enough time for this process to unfold can make the difference between a smooth or rough transition.

The more confidence you have in leaving, the more confident your child will feel in being left. Most of the time we find that a quick transition is best. We know how hard it is to leave your little one in tears, but be assured that if your child is upset, they will get lots of support and love from the teachers as well as the other children. Sometimes, lingering adults generally serve to remind the other children of their own parents and may set off a chain reaction of sadness.

Once you leave PLEASE DO NOT RETURN. You may call as many times as you like during the day, but you returning is confusing, and causes anxiety in both your child and the rest of the community. When picking up and dropping off it is important to be sensitive to the community by creating the least amount of disturbance in the room as possible. When other children see you, they are reminded of their own parents, and may feel sad.

Please turn off your cell phone, as this creates a disturbance for the entire community, and takes away from the focus that could be on your child during the transition. Outside shoes are not permitted in the classroom in order to reduce noise and cut down on dirt and illness. Socks or slippers may be worn in the classroom.

Paying close attention to the volume of your voice and the space you are occupying is helpful as loud voices and adult bodies in the classroom can be startling and discomforting to the children.

The entry is where arrival takes place. Good-byes may happen here, and your child will enter the classroom with a staff member or on their own. It is not necessary for you to wait in the entry until your child enters the classroom. Typically children departing after lunch or nap can be picked up outside. If we are not outside, please do not enter the classroom, but rather wait for your child to find you in the entryway For safety’s sake, please do not allow your child to touch or close the outside door.

We ask that parents make every effort to not enter the classroom during morning hours. There are several philosophical, pedagogical, and practical reasons why we ask this, and are happy to answer any questions you may have about this policy in person.

Parents may have access to the building at any time during business hours. We insist that you arrive and depart at times consistent with the schedule as to cause the least amount of disturbance in the classroom.

Arrival time is between 8:30 and 9:00 am. If there is a special occasion in which you may arrive late or have to pick up early, we prefer that your child not attend school that day, rather that disturb the community. Consistently arriving or departing off schedule may result in you being asked to find alternate care for your child. If arriving or departing is challenging for you or your child, please let us know. Those children who are enrolled in the early morning care may arrive as early as 8:00. Because All Roads shares space with my home, we ask that you do not arrive into the yard prior to 8:00 a.m. If your child is not enrolled in the early morning care, you may begin drop off no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

If you are picking up at the half-day, please be prompt. There is a ten-minute pick up window at dismissal time. Your promptness is appreciated. We encourage visiting outside in the yard, as the transition to nap begins at 12:15, and ask that all those picking up at the half day be out of the building by 12:15.

Extended day pickups begin at 2:45, and after 3:00 are considered late. Children being picked up at 3:30 must be out of the building by 3:45 and the classroom is closed at 4:30. Pickups after 4:30 are not tolerated.

All Roads follows Portland Public School district in the event of inclement weather. Specifically look at the Rieke, Wilson, or Hayhurst schools. In the event of a late opening, our part day program will NOT meet, and only the extended day program will meet. We do not make up snow days, nor is tuition prorated to reflect these unforeseen closures.

Visits & Observations

If you would like the opportunity to visit with us, please check in with the Program Director to set up an observation. Usually observations are in the morning between 9 and 10. If you are picking up in the afternoon you may take a few minutes to come in to the classroom.


Process of Weaning and Food Education

“We must support as much as possible the child’s desires for activity; not wait on him, but educate him to be independent.” Montessori, Maria. The Child in the Family: The Clio Montessori Series Vol. 8. Clio Press, 1989. p 57

There comes a time when the child is ready to reach beyond the food of the mother toward the food of the environment. As in all things, we should not hamper the child’s burgeoning curiosity. Instead, we should offer these new experiences with patience and wisdom.

As the child begins to explore the world of food, every effort should be made to present this new exciting subject as a lesson in culture and care of the self. In our society, we eat at a table, from a plate, with a fork, and we drink from glasses. At All Roads, children are taught to eat this way. This is the perfect time to cement the habit of healthy, whole foods, instead of trying to break the junk-food habit later. This is also a great opportunity to involve the child in the process of food preparation. To familiarize the child with simple actions such as spreading butter or slicing a banana not only gives him/her these abilities, but it gives him/her the pride of taking care of one’s own needs, and contributing to the community.

Children under twelve months will have a feeding plan that may be verbal or written. All Roads prepares our own purees and baby foods from fresh and organic produce, formula is provided until a child is twelve months old. Children who are not yet on solid foods will be allowed to establish their own feeding schedule.

While you may want to practice using a bottle before your child comes to All Roads, it’s not necessary that you switch to feeding exclusively from a bottle before coming to school. We know that each child is unique, and that they may respond to us differently than they would at home. We have a great body of experience and expertise in caring for infants. We have every confidence that we will be able to support your child in learning how to feed themselves at school. We support nursing mothers and value every opportunity that your child may have to experience the closeness and comfort of breastfeeding.

All snacks and meals are prepared on site. The children are offered an opportunity to help with the preparations by washing and slicing fruits and vegetables, stirring and pouring, and setting the table. The children assist with the cleanup as well.

Snacks and meals are nutritionally balanced. All Roads strives to serve produce that is produced organically. We serve locally grown products whenever possible. We participate in the USDA food program, and offer a rich variety of proteins and grains. Because of prevalent allergies, All Roads is a ‘Nut Free Zone’. We do not serve honey to children younger than a year. The weekly menus are posted on the bulletin board.

A nutritious snack is provided for your child between nine and ten a.m. Breakfast is not served at school, and special snack times cannot be accommodated. Please make sure that your child finishes any food or drink BEFORE walking though the door in the morning. Please do not bring food into the school at pickup times.


Use of the Toilet

Just as we model and clarify other socio-cultural information (how and when we sleep, eat, interact, etc.), we must also offer the appropriate information about elimination of bodily wastes.

We do not have to “train” the child in the sense of external rewards and punishments, or imposing the knowledge of the sphincters. This is a natural process. We show the child how to take care of these processes, and how to understand this part of the body.

We offer an aid to natural development. Like any other action, we demonstrate the proper method and the child sees and learns. A great aid in this education is the proper information. Cloth diapers give the child immediate feedback (feeling of wetness), in response to the feeling of release.

We have seen first hand that children as young as three months old are able to recognize their need to eliminate, and so we offer the toilet to all children while changing diapers. With the aid of training pants (cloth underwear with multiple layers to minimize leakage) and a patient and attentive adult, the child teaches him or herself how to use the toilet on their own schedule.

There is, of course, no reward or punishment imposed by the adult. The ultimate reward for the child is independence.

While at first continuity between home and school may not be confusing to your child, there comes a point of obvious sensitivity for learning the toilet. It is something that is clearly observed when recording your child’s behavior. At this point, we may offer more guidance so that you can support your child at home, and ensure a successful transition from learning to use the toilet to potty trained.


Infants will need at least one change of clothing, and a warm coat and hat. All children must have rain pants, a rain shell, a warm jacket, and rain boots. We have found that Robeez are ideal for the mobile infant and child who is just beginning to walk. The infants may wear their Robeez both indoors and out.

The toddler wardrobe is a bit more extensive;

Please bring the following labeled changes of clothing for your child’s All Roads wardrobe. We’ll launder these items as needed. Your child will also need a small box or basket ( no bigger than 12”x12”) so that everything may fit neatly into the small cube shaped cubby we provide.

Your child should have:

  • 3 pairs of socks with rubber grips on the soles
  • 5-7 pairs of training type underpants (or quantity of cloth diapers)
  • 3-4 Diaper Wraps
  • 1 pair of rubber boots (that fit your child well)
  • 1 pair of Robeez, or similar inside slipper
  • 1 pullover short sleeved shirt
  • 2 pullover long sleeved shirts
  • 4 pairs cotton pants with an elastic waistband and non elastic ankle cuffs. One pair of thick, double lined nylon pants for outside in the winter 1 sweater/sweatshirt to layer
  • 1 rain coat and 1 pair of rain pants (see REI)
  • 1 warm hat, with a chin strap (seasonal)
  • 1 sun hat, with a chin strap (seasonal)

We encourage clothing that is colorful and vibrant, but insist that cartoon characters, super heroes, and toy themes be kept at home.

It is important to provide your child with shoes and clothing that fit properly. This is especially important in the case of shoes and boots; shoes that fall off your child’s feet are a frustration to both your child and their teachers.

Guidance & Discipline

The All Roads environment is specifically prepared to meet the developmental needs of the child from mobile infancy through their third year. Children may move freely throughout the room, exploring and choosing their own work and interacting with others in the environment without restrictions, provided certain expectations are met. These include issues of safety, as well as acts infringing upon the comfort or happiness of others. Being part of a community involves learning acceptable social behavior.

The rules in the All Roads classroom are simple, and reflective of those rules that bind our social contract. We are gentle with other people. We leave things as we find them, or even better than we find them. We do not take other people’s things. These are the guiding rules of our community.

When children experience the freedom to develop according to their own individual needs and interests, they develop an inner discipline. As a child finds his or her own inner discipline, the adult must sometimes provide outer guidance.

Children under six years of age are in the process of developing their will. A child under three years of age is in what we call ‘the unconscious absorbent mind’. We understand that the child under three is responding to impulses with a varying degree of control. We understand that children under three must know how to comply with adult requests before we can expect them to do this on their own. Learning to comply, developing the will, this is the work of the very young child. In order to obey the child must have the will and the ability to do so.

Children under three do not know what is meant when we say words like “No”. It is with great respect for their learning process that the teachers in the classroom help them to know what “No” means. Whenever possible, the staff at All Roads uses positive phrasing, telling children what they can do, rather than what they can’t.

If a child is having a hard time controlling their body or being gentle with other children or the materials in the classroom, the staff views this as a call to task. It becomes our task as the prepared adult to be proactive, being ready to physically assist children if needed to prevent them from doing harm to others, while observing for possible reasons for such behaviors. We use positive redirection and peaceful communication to guide children towards more constructive activities. When safe and appropriate, we will allow a child to experience the natural consequences of their actions. These include both positive and negative experiences.

Our response to repeated hurting behaviors or misuse of the materials may be to provide a ‘time in’ where the child will be kept close to the adult until they show that they are ready to return to the group or choose individual activities. Careful observation and deep thought are given to the actions of the child to best determine their specific needs.

The All Roads staff are trained and knowledgeable in Alfie Kohn’s work, and specifically use the methods discussed in his book Unconditional Parenting when guiding and redirecting behavior. We also look to the advice in Jane Nelsen’s Positive Discipline for Children Under Three. We are well versed in Dr. Montessori’s own work and words regarding discipline, freedom in the classroom, and the development of the will.

We do not practice punishment of any kind with the children at All Roads. While we share in the joy of success, we do not praise, or make the child’s feeling of accomplishment contingent upon our approval.

Love, understanding, and acceptance is given to the child at all times. The staff maintains a faith and trust in the child that when they are met with adult direction that is consistent, loving, and firm they will develop the ability to bring their will into compliance in an authentic way, based on intrinsic motivation.

Should a child repeatedly engage in inappropriate behavior, parents would be asked to work with the school to develop an action plan to be implemented both at home and at school. In some cases, outside professional help may be requested, and in extreme cases when it is clear All Roads can not meet the specific needs of a child, they may be asked not to return to school.

For more information about our guidance and discipline philosophy, please see

  • Mercedes’ Tips for Graceful Parenting
  • All Roads Parents’ Handbook
  • Alfie Kohn, Unconditional Parenting & Unconditional Teaching
  • Jane Nelsen, Positive Discipline for Infants and Toddlers


Sleep and Rest

In our common goal to educate the child toward independence, no opportunity should be overlooked. The ability to soothe one’s self to sleep must never be undervalued.

Sleep is very important in the child’s ultimate task of discovering the world. At a certain moment, when the child has absorbed all s/he can, the child must sleep to assimilate and categorize the new knowledge, and to refresh for renewed efforts. The child should never become dependent on the presence of another person, or object, to be able to relax into revitalizing sleep.

If the child relied on such things, would it not be traumatizing if they were not available? This is why we always offer the child a comfortable area to rest in, if the child feels the need; and at a special time during the day, we offer a subdued environment conducive to rest, but allow the child to be in charge of his/her own resting cycle.

For some children, this is a process and takes practice with the gentle support of a caring adult. We have years of experience in guiding children to become independent in putting themselves to sleep, and so this is not a requirement or expectation of any child who is new to our community.

In order to ensure a comfortable nap, please provide your child with a favorite blanket. Stuffed toys are not necessary. Pacifiers are not allowed at All Roads.

We transition gently into naptime, with a routine of quiet activities followed by bathroom breaks and a little cup of milk. Each child has their own mat and bumper pillows that are very comfortable, and the children are involved in the process of putting out the mats. Each child has their own spot, which remains consistent while they nap at school. Adults model sleep and the children respond to this by soothing themselves to sleep independently. Our naps are generally very sweet and peaceful and very much needed.

Our waking transition is very similar to the one into sleep. As children rise, we put our nap things away and use the bathroom. We engage in quiet activities until all nappers are awake and then have a snack.

Illness & Medication

All Roads cannot care for your child if s/he is ill. If your child becomes ill at school, we can care for him or her only temporarily while arrangements for pickup are being made. It is reasonable to expect at least ten colds a year, and possibly as many days of absence when new to the community.


The following guidelines for illness are set forth in the CCD guidelines. All Roads is obliged to enforce them.

“A provider shall not admit, or retain in care a child who:

  • (a)Is diagnosed as having or being a carrier of a child care-retractable disease, as defined in Department of Human Services administrative rules, OAR 33-19-0010; or
  • (b)Has one of the following symptoms, or combination of symptoms, of illness:
  • (A)Diarrhea (more than one abnormally loose, runny, watery, or bloody stool);
  • (B)Vomiting;
  • (C)Fever over 100 degrees F taken under the arm;
  • (D)Severe cough
  • (E)Unusual yellow color to skin or eyes;
  • (F)Skin or eye lesions or rashes that are severe, weeping, or pus-filled;
  • (G)Stiff neck and headache with one or more of the symptoms listed above;
  • (H)Difficult breathing or abdominal wheezing; or
  • (I)Complaints of severe pain

A Note About Colds: While it may seem like your child is constantly sick, with a perpetual runny nose, their immune system is gaining strength. Usually your child is most contagious before they present with any symptoms and for the first day or two, while their mucus is still clear. Ideally, this is the time to keep your child home. We have found that children who remain at home, engaged in low-level activities recover far sooner than their colleagues who are not afforded this opportunity. It is also a kind way to spare the community of your child’s illness. If your child has a cold, but is not too sick to be in school, it may be prudent to plan that school be the only activity of the day, so that your child has plenty of down time. While children may seem full of energy at home, being at school is very draining, and down time becomes important in supporting your child’s energy level while they are at school.

A Note about Vomiting and Diarrhea: We have had some very serious intestinal viruses infect the children in the past two years. We will usually insist that your child be removed from the community after one diarrhea bm if there is a known intestinal illness being passed around, and require that your child return to school after 36 hours from their last episode of vomiting or diarrhea. As per the Multnomah County health specialist, all soiled clothing will be sent home with your child.

We will go outside daily. Requests that your child be kept inside cannot be accommodated. Please keep in mind that when your child doesn’t have time at home to recuperate, they will remain sick for a longer period of time.

We prefer not to medicate at school, however, if your child is on antibiotics, we can medicate at school. An ‘Authorization to Medicate’ form must be filled out before we can administer any medicines. Please be aware that items like toothpaste and sunscreen are considered medication and cannot be administered without the appropriate consent form. We ask that you wait 48 hours after the first dose of antibiotics before returning to school.

When your child receives vaccinations, we ask that you notify us immediately. The reasons are twofold; we are in a unique position to observe adverse reactions, and there are children at the school who are not immunized. Although we always practice the utmost care in handling waste and bodily fluids, knowing which vaccine is present in the school helps us to take extra precautions in ensuring everyone’s health and safety. We generally do not apply sunscreen at school. We suggest that you apply a high SPF sunscreen just before coming to school. Remember, that sunscreen is important even on cloudy days. We don’t get very much direct sun exposure in the play yard, so with a wide sun hat, loose light long sleeved shirts and light long pants, your child will be as protected from sun burn as possible. We may re-apply sunscreen in the afternoon if we feel that a child needs it, or does not have the proper clothing to be protected from the sun. On very hot sunny days, we play in the front yard, protected from direct sunlight from our huge shady Maple.

Connecting Home & School

All Roads will close for two days to the children in order to offer formal parent/teacher conferences. This is an ideal time to check in about your child’s development and what is happening in the classroom.

It is important to communicate major events such as moving, a parent going out of town and other such issues with one of the staff members, either in writing or verbally. Advance notice of someone other than a parent or an authorized person is required before we can release your child.

“Notes about my Day” should accompany your child home with information about their appetite, sleep, and toileting throughout the day. We maintain a photo web-log on flickr, with new photos posted once or twice a month.

Should you have any questions about any of the policies or information outlined in this handbook, do not hesitate to contact us either by phone or email. In closing, a note on independence;

“The most important [principle] is to respect all the reasonable forms of activity in which the child engages and try to understand them.” Montessori, Maria. The Child in the Family: The Clio Montessori Series Vol. 8. Clio Press, 1989. p 54

Mercedes Castle
All Roads Learning Community
Portland, Or. 97219