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Montessori Toddler Education: Engaging and Encouraging from the Beginning
This is the time when your children are using their bodies, senses and their emerging problem-solving skills to learn about and make sense of their world in the ways most meaningful and effective for them.
Dr. Montessori was one of the first educators to recognize that these first few years of a child’s life are critical to the development of personality and intellect. At this age, children are actively seeking out information, and learn quickly and easily. Toddlers are especially interested in demonstrating their independence. Our toddler program will allow our students the freedom to learn as much as they can, as quickly as possible with the depth of the prepared environment which includes the materials and teachers.
The Toddler Program
Dr. Maria Montessori referred to children under the age of three as being in a “sensitive” period for language, movement and order. Toddlers are curious, active learners who use their senses and bodies to gain information about the world around them. We have prepared a lovely, orderly and safe environment that satisfies the toddler’s natural curiosity. This environment meets the child’s need to move freely, to explore, to make discoveries, to develop language skills and to grow in independence. Children are drawn to materials and activities that provide successful experiences. They express joy and a sense of accomplishment when you hear them exclaim, “I did it myself!”
The Prepared Environment
As any parent of a toddler knows, rest and inactivity are foreign to a toddler’s nature! Toddlers are in constant motion. The prepared Toddler environment is a place where the child is able to act upon his natural energies. In the prepared environment, the toddler is encouraged to touch, handle and explore everything in his surroundings. His attention span is limited, so the environment provides a wide variety of materials.
The Toddler classroom is divided into several areas in which the children move freely throughout the day. In Practical Life, the three main areas of focus are 1) Care of self, 2) Grace and Courtesy, and 3) Care of environment. Activities include sweeping, dusting, caring for plants, washing dishes, etc. The child develops a sense of order, concentration, self-confidence and independence as he performs these familiar tasks. He learns to enjoy taking care of his environment.
The children learn to care for themselves and they practice dressing and undressing themselves. In the beginning, loose fitting, easy on and off clothes that are free of zippers, snaps, and buttons, help the children develop their ability to do it themselves. Children are often observed helping one another put on a sock or shoe as they work together to get dressed.
A very important part of a child’s growth to independence is learning to use the toilet independently. Observing other children using the toilet sparks an interest in many children. When a child is showing signs of readiness, we will work together with the family to support the child with a stress-free approach. Each child has an individual pace of development, and by respecting that individuality, toileting happens in a very natural way.
Developing spoken language and learning how to communicate with others is supported by providing creative and intriguing concepts to expand the toddler’s growing vocabulary. Every day the children join in conversations, listen to stories, classify objects, and learn songs, poems and finger plays. These activities all nurture their budding language skills. Toddlers also learn to use words for the feelings they experience in themselves and others.
The children are provided many opportunities to develop fine motor and large motor skills. Indoors, there are fine motor activities including puzzles, using crayons and scissors, and stringing beads. Art activities also develop fine motor skill through painting, working with clay, gluing, etc.
Each day the child will have the opportunity to spend time outdoors. This is where they can enjoy playing with balls, climbing, jumping, riding tricycles, etc. Large motor development occurs while they play. The children participate in music, movement and dance. These activities are important in developing balance, control of movement, and self-confidence.
The Teacher’s Role
The Toddler program teachers’ role is not to continually entertain or initiate activities. Instead, the teachers observe the needs of the child and prepare and maintain an appropriate environment for the children. The teachers respect the child and serve as guides. The teachers are always available when needed by the child, but when the child can do it for himself, the teachers step back. Since this is an age of imitation, the teachers constantly model appropriate social skills, good manners and consideration of others.
It is our goal to develop partnerships with families as we support and respect each child’s unique abilities and foster a sense of community during these important early years of development.
The Music Together® Preschool program provides children with the opportunity to learn music in developmentally appropriate ways. Music Together Preschool supports cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development, giving parents and caregivers enjoyable and significant ways to relate to their children through music. Recordings, songbooks, and teaching materials are provided to each classroom, and children “bring the music home” though CD sets for parent-child musical play, sharing the songs and activities learned in school.