Toddlers interact and explore in the young skills room where play is encouraged, development of fine motor skills are constant through the senses and learning materials, and the seeds of a Montessori education is planted. Designed for ages 1 and 2, here is where practical life, sensorial, and the foundation for math and language are established. In practical life, the three main areas of 1. Care of self, 2. Grace and Courtesy, and 3. Care of environment, are strong at any age in Montessori, and is the single most important area. A desire to communicate and be contributing members of society is human nature. For a child, especially as young as 1, the need to feel important and a participant in the family is strong now that he has been observing the activity around him and is ready to participate in real work.
The Prepared Environment
Rest and inactivity are foreign to the toddler's nature; something that every parent of a toddler knows first hand. The prepared toddler environment is a place where the very young child is able to act upon his natural energies and curiosity. We all know the toddler is in constant motion and objects just seem to leap up into his hands. The toddler is encouraged to touch and handle and explore everything in his surroundings. His attention span is limited, so the prepared environment provides a wide variety of materials.
The child is given freedom in the indoor and the outdoor environments to select activities that satisfy his needs. We encourage this within appropriate limits.
We also encourage independence. The toddler wants to do things by himself. Unfortunately, in today's hurry-up pace, there is not always time or patience to allow the small child to complete the job at hand all by himself. The toddler prepared environment and program are designed to be convenient for the child. The prepared toddler environment is his place, a place to feel at ease and at home. It is our aim, as the aware adult, to remove the obstacles that frustrate the child by building furnishings to his size and having materials at his arm's reach and at his eye level.
The Aware Adult
Another difference in a Montessori toddler program is the teacher, or the aware adult. The Directress is not continually entertaining the children nor does the Directress consistently initiate activities. Instead the Directress is an aware observer of the children and their needs and prepares and maintains an appropriate environment and atmosphere. The Directress respects the child and guides him into purposeful activity. When the Directress is needed the Directress is there, but when the child can do it on his own, the Directress steps back.
Preschool, The Primary Classroom
This multiage class, 2 & 3 year olds who are potty trained to 6 year olds, provides hands on learning experiences that teaches each child at an individual developmental level, rather than a fixed timetable according to age. Independence, concentration, grace and courtesy is the foundation upon which the child learns to cooperate, make choices, and challenge themselves to continually grow throughout life.
All areas of the Montessori learning environment, which include practical life, sensorial, language, and math, are available throughout the classroom. For further information on each of these areas, visit the Montessori Education page.
The foundations for math and reading are established through practical life and sensorial. Here is where the concentration and order of a child are practiced and carried through in math and language.