Our Toddler Community is designed to meet the developmental needs of very young children, beginning at 19 months. These young students are at an age of exploring everything, so they must be in an environment where the child will be safe. Additionally, at this age, the child is still in the “parallel play” stage, meaning they enjoy being around others of their age, naturally adapting to engage in group activities. Toddlers are still learning to be expressive, as well. To create a means of expression, toddlers absorb information from their senses of sight, sound, smell, texture and taste without formal lessons. The Montessori method makes sure to create an appropriate environment where the child can explore, experience, and express themselves safely. The design of the learning space takes these factors into account using self-directed, individual activities which can be done with little or no intervention from the adult.
Hands-on learning materials are placed in sequence throughout our beautiful classroom which will enhance the toddler’s internal ability to be independent, to use fine and gross motor skills, to recognize sensory impressions, and increase language and cognitive skills. They also use manipulative materials, demonstrating cause-and-effect relationships and one-to-one correspondence. These Toddler children are very much encouraged to use language to express their needs and begin to understand others, becoming more expressive and using the right words at the right time.
Everything in the toddler community is a lesson in itself, whether greeting someone or preparing a meal. We allow every toddler to take care of themself as much as they can. The activities and Montessori lessons aid the development of concentration, coordination of movement, order, and independence in every child, developing trust and feelings of self-worth. These activities appeal to the child in sensitive periods of order, imitation, and self-awareness.
The activities of Practical Life such as sweeping, mopping, table washing, table waxing, metal polishing, clothes washing, folding, flower arranging, sowing seeds, and raking leaves are strongly integrated into the Montessori Toddler curriculum. Traditionally, toddlers are not allowed to do these activities for themselves. The key, however, is to scale the activities down to make it possible for them to care for themselves and their environment independently.
The daily maintenance of the toddler community actively involves the work of the children. They take great delight in this work, especially if it involves water, as this work builds their independence and self-esteem, as well as appeals to their senses. Children are also involved in all aspects of food preparation and serving, both at snack time and at lunchtime. Activities include self-feeding, use of a cup and spoon, setting the table, serving, and cleaning up, as well as pouring water, preparing food, spreading crackers, cutting fruits and vegetables, and washing dishes.
Our Toddler community is prepared in such a way that the child is not controlled, but supported and encouraged so that they have the highest chance of success to aid their mental and emotional development.