Toddler Community (14 months to 2.5 years)
What is taught in the Toddler Montessori community?
The Toddler Montessori programme, which is sometimes called the Infant Montessori Programme, refers to education for children between the ages of 14 months (or when they begin to walk) up to 2.5 years (when they are ready to transition into the Primary Montessori classroom). The classroom for this age group is knowledgably designed to support the uninterrupted learning of the very young child who is constantly exploring and continuously absorbing. The staff know that there is no stopping a toddler who wants to explore and manipulate things with his hands, and therefore, the toddler programme is prepared to provide the space and guidance he requires while he spends time learning skills that lead to responsible independence.
Areas of the prepared environment support the following categories of activities:
Practical Life – To fulfil the child’s need to belong and have responsibilities, develop motor skills and focus, to become independent in caring for the self and the environment.
Psycho-Sensory Motor Development – To develop and refine the senses and coordinate movements.
Language – To interact with society – to help and ask for help when needed, to socialize.
Science (Nature) – To learn about the wonderful creations in their immediate surroundings
Arts – To express the inner self, to create, to understand the world through drawing, painting, music, craft
Physical Education – To develop and refine control over the body and movements and practice co-operation
Food Preparation – To know where food comes from, to learn about different types of foods, to connect and appreciate what something looks/feels/smells/tastes like before and after cooking, and to eat independently with knowledge.
The toddler classroom functions as a community. Everything and everyone is connected, and one person’s actions has natural consequences. So, every child learns through observation and practice about how his surroundings work, and therefore consistency and routine are the cornerstone of development based on which all learning happens. The children benefit from active involvement alongside an adult not only in everyday activities but also in all festivals, celebrations and programmes conducted in the school. From the unpacking and setting up for the occasion up to the end when everything used is repacked and put away carefully for the next time, the children have a role to play.
All of this is done at a pace that meets each individual child’s needs and matches the natural rhythm of their development. Instead of creating a generic learning plan for the classroom, each student is given the individualized attention when they need it and to only to the extent they need it. After all, our goal is to nurture every child so they can each achieve their fullest potential. And we can only do that by responding to each of their unique needs.
When it comes to food, even adults who allow independent eating commonly give children unbreakable plasticware to prepare foods and plastic cutlery with which they can eat, while seated in a high chair separated from everyone. But in the Toddler community the children and adults work together and eat together. The child sized furniture and table ware help the child choose for themselves at every step – where they sit and what they eat. Yes, there will be spills and maybe something may break. But the children experience and are made more aware of the natural consequences without it being something “wrong”. When the child knows that a plate can break, or that spills and messes will need to be cleaned up, they quickly learn to be more mindful and careful with their actions. And best of all, they want to eat.
The trust extended to the child in all areas of the environment through independent work, communication and exploration, along with the adult’s knowledge of the sensitive periods of development in this age group, allows him to blossom and become keen to learn how everything works in his world. And in turn, the child trusts and loves his environment and develops self-direction and self-confidence. What a wonderful way to help children develop interest and focus, to foster a lasting love of learning and to equip them with some of the core abilities they’ll need throughout their lives.