Our Montessori Toddler environment (Ages 18 months – 2 ½ years) provides toddlers opportunities to become independent by exploring the natural world, acquiring oral language, and developing skills in concentration and socialization.
When a Toddler arrives at school, he is greeted at the door and walks independently to the classroom. He hangs his lunch box and jacket and joins the class for a group lesson.
Kicking off the Day
The teacher leads the class in the pledge of allegiance and discusses the date, the days of the week, and may present a special group lesson. Then, children are dismissed to begin the Montessori work cycle. Toddlers are encouraged to select their own activities, under the careful eye of their Montessori Guide, and engage in hands-on lessons to develop concentration, independence, and self-reliance.
The Work Cycle
During the work cycle, Toddlers choose activities in Practical Life, Sensorial, Science, Math, and Language. These activities have been carefully curated by our Montessori Guides and the Head of Education to achieve a specific learning objective. Many activities are handmade and unique to our school setting.
The Montessori Toddler Community is unique because of its integrated philosophy and hands-on learning approach. Every section of the Montessori Toddler Classroom connects with another section. For example, holding materials from the Sensorial section with the thumb and first two fingers strengthens finger muscles to hold a pencil for writing. Another example is the activity of pouring grains from one container to another without spilling. The same level of concentration is needed for advanced math topics such as addition and multiplication in the Children’s House community. All materials and furniture are child-size, so children can independently operate in the classroom. Children can select their own activities (within limits) and each material is tactile and colorful to encourage a love of learning.
Outdoor play is especially fun in our enormous backyard. Children unleash their physical and creative energies by playing basketball, running races, and building forts.
Our backyard has oak and pine trees, which are home to sparrows, crows, blue jays, and cardinals. Our Montessori Guides use outdoor play to reinforce lessons on the seasons, nature, the weather, interpersonal skills, and character traits.
After recess, Toddlers wash their hands and use the restroom.
Lunch time is an opportunity for Toddlers to assert their independence. Children are never fed and are encouraged to use utensils, cups, and napkins appropriately without spilling any food.
Toddlers often chat about their day, sitting with friends and proudly show off their lunches. Given our international student body, Toddlers are exposed to cultural diversity early on through food. They see and smell their peers’ meals – Indian paranthas, Mexican carne asada, and Liberian plantains.
After lunch, children wash their hands and use the restroom in preparation for nap time.
The Role of the Montessori Guide
The teacher, known as the Montessori Guide (or Directress), is a facilitator in the Montessori environment. In other words, the Guide has a special relationship with each child in the classroom, knowledgeable of each child’s strengths and areas of improvement. If a teacher finds the child particularly gifted or interested in a certain area, the teacher will accelerate the learning process by introducing more challenging work. If a child needs more time to strengthen certain skills, the teacher will find alternative exercises to engage the child. Most importantly, the teacher guides the child through the learning process – helping the child make self-discoveries in math, science, language, and geography – as opposed to presenting lessons in large groups, at the cost of ignoring individual talents and abilities.
Throughout the work day, the Toddlers are interacting with each other. As they select work, they comment on their prior experiences with an activity. Sometimes, an older Toddler might help their young peer with an activity, such as gluing or crafts.
A day in the Montessori Toddler Classroom is highly active and dynamic. Children work independently, under the guidance of a Montessori Directress. In addition, children are not just trained in language and math at an early age using the Montessori Method – but also in skills that lead to future academic success like concentration, discipline, and control.