18 MONTHS THROUGH 3 YEARS
The Montessori Toddler environment is carefully prepared to aid the toddler in achieving independence. The Toddler room has child-sized furniture, access to outdoor play and nature exploration, and defined spaces to challenge the coordination of movement and fit their growing physical needs. A toddler toileting area encourages beginning training and bathroom independence.
In the Toddler environment, we strive to encourage social interaction with other children, enhance the development of language and practical life skills, and provide music and movement activities. The curriculum also includes activities that allow the young child to develop fine and gross motor coordination and visual discrimination through the senses and learning materials. The structure of the toddler program supports developing confidence, as each child learns to put away their belongings, set their place for snack and lunch, and clean up their own spills. An emerging conviction of “I can do it” grows within the child as they explore their learning environment and engage with a wide range of educational materials designed just for them.
Specially crafted materials in the toddler room serve to give the children a sense of satisfaction and become more independent in their learning. The Toddler program is an environment prepared to meet the developmental needs and high energy levels of children who are transitioning from toddler to preschool. Of particular importance in this program is the preparation of children for the larger works of the Children’s House classroom with a focus on self-care, grace and courtesy, internal self-discipline, and the ability to make choices in the classroom.
Language: In the toddler program the children have access to a special language area with materials to develop the preliminary skills for writing and reading. Language activities are developing at a rapid rate during the toddler years. Reinforcing the importance of verbal communication, speaking clearly, and supporting the child’s expanding vocabulary are a daily process in the toddler environment.
Math: Maria Montessori believed that a child’s mind is mathematical and based on the order and perceptual awareness found in the development of the senses. She believed that math exercises help prepare the “mathematical mind.” For these reasons, toddlers are exposed to hands-on math materials that help the children develop an awareness of numbers, counting, and basic math operations.
Art: Art is truly a personal expression of the creative, inner self. Rather than forcing children to copy a particular model or mode in the art area, the stage is set for children to release and express their creativity by supplying the appropriate materials and demonstrating the use of various instruments used in art activities.
Movement: Toddlers are in a sensitive period for fine and gross motor development and, thus, require a lot of physical movement during the day. They participate in many music and movement activities such as dancing, marching, stretching, and playing games. In addition, they spend time outdoors in the gardens and playgrounds where they have organized and free play time.
Music: At the Toddler level, the music program begins with the child’s body, both voice and movement. There are many opportunities for the children to experience music through games, songs, dance, and rhythm activities.
Practical Life: The activities of practical life form the cornerstone of the Montessori classroom and are often a favorite of toddlers. Practical life prepares the children for all other areas. Emphasis is on process rather than product; activities are highly concrete and focused on helping toddlers learn to care for themselves and their environment. Through this process, the children develop and refine basic skills that will serve them for a lifetime.
Sensorial: Toddlers primary learning tools are their senses, and the materials in this area are deliberately designed to help children refine the use of their senses. By working with the sensorial materials, children develop the organization and patterning skills needed to progress in math and language concepts.
Geography: At the Toddler level, children are introduced to the idea that there are different people, places, creatures, environments, and cultures in our world. They use puzzles, games, songs, pictures, stories, and recognition games to begin their introduction to our culture.
Science: Science for the toddler means activities where the child can directly observe and manipulate physical properties. The tactile element is the key ingredient for learning about their world. Appropriate science activities for toddlers allow for the maximum child interaction and minimal adult intervention. When children can manipulate materials and equipment to discover on their own, they feel a great sense of mastery and satisfaction.