The Toddler Program - 18 months - 3 years
The Toddler Community exists to recognize the abilities of the very young child.
The child is becoming aware of himself as a separate person and needs a place in which to explore this separateness. The Montessori toddler classroom allows the child to function independently in an atmosphere of love and support, flourishing in a psychological environment that believes in and supports his innate abilities.
It was Maria Montessori’s belief that a child’s normal development is a series of small triumphs in independence. The classroom is prepared in such a way as to support these small steps while still allowing the child to focus on the ultimate goal of self-construction. Keeping in mind the child’s natural learning characteristics, the prepared environment offers a complete range of activities that are purposeful and sensorial in nature.
The main focus of the Toddler community is to meet the developmental needs of the child of this age particularly in the areas of concentration, language expansion, toilet training, refinement of movement and socialization. The ultimate goal is always to assist the child in becoming more and more independent.
Mastering the skills in self-care such as dressing, grooming and toileting is a major step on the road to independence. Learning to take care of oneself is internally motivated and a child’s efforts in mastery take a considerable amount of time. Engagement in these activities begins as collaborative work with the adult in the environment and then moves to the child’s independent work.
Once the child learns to care for herself, she becomes more interested in her environment and those activities that revolve around its care such as sweeping, washing dishes and preparing food. She also begins to notice the community that surrounds her and reaches out to experience that aspect of her daily life, beginning to establish social relationships and offering the best of herself to the community.
The toddler environment supports both of these aims by providing activities and opportunities in which the toddler is engaged in self–construction and in the community aspect of the classroom. These activities may include lessons in practical life skills, manipulative materials for eye-hand coordination, gross motor activities and lessons in community living.
The assurance and independence gained through the work of the toddler environment will support the child in meeting future challenges with confidence.