The Montessori Method is founded on the belief that children are capable of learning and reaching their true potential in an environment where their inner needs are met at each stage of their development.
The toddler years are a time of astounding development. We recognize this formative period when work habits, concentration, independence, thinking, and problem solving are rapidly being established.
Our curriculum supports the child’s sensitive periods, needs, and tendencies at their respective stages of development:
We assist the child’s optimum development by following these principles
- Prepare the environment
- Provide movement opportunities
- Make time for movement
In the Toddler environment, Practical Life activities offer the child a wide range of materials which require sequential or step-by-step movements, hand and finger grip, hand-eye coordination, and dexterity. This type of work gradually isolates the three fingers used in the pincer grip when grasping, twisting, rolling, buttoning, closing and releasing, and so forth, which will eventually lead children to refine their pencil grip when they are ready.
Children are also offered numerous opportunities to purposefully move around the room and explore. During work time, their gross motor skills are strengthened and developed through carrying and balancing the contents in the tray, moving slightly oversized objects from the shelf to the work space and back. All these activities offer intrinsic motivation to work repeatedly with materials and build the sense of accomplishment that encourages longer periods of concentration and attentiveness.
In the toddler class, we assist the child’s development of language skills by following these principles:
- Prepare a language-rich environment
- Connect the child with the environment through speaking, listening, and reading
- Allow the child to absorb and practice language through speaking, listening, and reading
In The Absorbent Mind, Dr. Montessori wrote, “At about a year and a half, the child discovers another fact, and that is that each thing has its own name”. The toddler participates in spoken language with a thirst for vocabulary and communication that is unequalled at any other period of development. The acquisition of language is a crucial phase in the toddler years. Children are fascinated by different sounds and try their best to replicate the sounds to make words.
As their language skills become more refined, toddlers begin to use language to decode the world around them, asking questions and inquiring about the names of everything they encounter. It is during this time that the Montessori classroom environment provides them with specific, accurate vocabulary and the modeling of Grace and Courtesy skills and respectful communication, with directed choices promoting the child’s own individuality while guiding them towards constructive activities.
3. Independence: “Help me do it myself``
Through Montessori work, the toddler gains skills, confidence, and an “I can do it” attitude. In the classroom, we support the child’s path to independence with three key principles:
- Provide an accessible environment with child sized furniture, real workable materials (not toys)
- Break down the activities into small steps for the child to watch and imitate
- Provide opportunities for children to do things for themselves, working repeatedly towards mastery of new skills
Independence is the ability to do things for ourselves. Toddlers become independent through purposeful and meaningful work. By working on simple daily activities, they begin to understand routines, their own abilities, and their place at school and at home. We offer choices at the right times and lend a hand only when help is needed. When we slow down to match the children’s pace, allowing plenty of time for them to practice their skills, their path to independence is supported. In time, they gain the ability and confidence to do things independently.
4. Internal Order
We create an environment with opportunities for the child to become involved in everyday chores and to be helpful in simple ways. The child is motivated to work because he is encouraged to do what he enjoys, while allowing space to make mistakes and learn from them.
We assist and support the child’s sense of order using these key principles:
Create an orderly environment that fosters self-discipline
Connect the child to the environment
Respect the time a child needs to work at their own pace
In the classroom, we keep routines predictable, expectations consistent, and the children enjoy the freedom to make choices and do work they enjoy. When children develop a routine from the time they are young, they will feel comfortable, capable, and they will start to develop a sense of internal order as they grow.