Our Montessori toddler class is designed for the child 18 months to 2 and one half years. The child is assisted in his very early development in the areas of large and small motor coordination and language skills.
The environment of the classroom provides for the child orderly activities with emphasis on personal care, lessons of grace and courtesy and socialization. In these ways the child is aided toward his goal of independent functioning.
Through the development of movement through exploration and perfection of the language skills the child develops independence and self-esteem.
Our curriculum begins with the work environment & concentration. One of the most calming activities for a child is concentration. This does not include passive, non-participatory concentration such as watching television or videos. The action must be something which is controlled by the child so he can repeat it as often as necessary, and it must challenge his body as well as his mind. Deep concentration can occur while digging in the sand, washing carrots, stringing beads, coloring, or doing a puzzle. The Montessori Toddler teacher gives lessons which are well thought out, logical and clear; she creates an environment which fosters work, and she is always on the lookout for a child beginning to concentrate.
There are many physical, emotional and mental values in work. Through these activities the child learns to be independent. There can be no intelligent independence in thought and action. He learns to concentrate, to control muscles, to focus, to analyze logical steps and complete a cycle of activity. It is precisely because of the valuable work in practical life that children in Montessori schools are able to concentrate, make intelligent decisions and master the beginnings of other areas of study such as math, language (including foreign languages) the arts and the sciences. But the purpose of this work in the inner satisfaction, and the support of the optimum development of the child. Following a successful, complete cycle of work, a child becomes calm and satisfied and, because of this inner peace, full of love for the environment and others.
The next step of our curriculum includes language development, which begins before birth and continues to be a major part of the child’s development for the first three years of life. The quality of spoken language is determined by the quality of the language listened to and absorbed during this time. The experience of real objects should come before pictures or names of these objects whenever possible. For example, if you have a new book with pictures of fruits and vegetables, take the child to the kitchen and handle, smell, cut up, and taste a piece of fruit: then go look at the picture of it, and other fruits in the book. Then the intelligence is built upon a wealth of experience. A child wants to learn the name of every object in his environment, and the meanings of the words he hears others using.
A second language is also taught,The acquisition of all languages spoken in the environment of the child begins in the womb before the child is born, and continues to be an important part of the child’s experience in the first months and years. At this age children show an uncanny ability to absorb language in all its complexities, and not just one language!
Practical life activities are also taught to our toddler program, there are three main areas of this focus: The first is the care of the person - such as dressing, brushing teeth, cooking etc. The second are of focus is the care of the environment - such as sweeping, washing clothes and gardening. The last focus of practical life activities is Grace & Courtesy- such as walking, and carrying objects, gracefully, using good manners, offering food, saying “please,” and “thank you.”
Children have always shown us their interest in practical life by pretending to cook & clean, taking care of a doll, carrying out adult conversations, etc. But when given the chance, they would much rather be doing the real work of the family and community, instead of pretending.
During the first three years the child will absorb, like a sponge, whatever is in the environment, ugliness or beauty, coarse behavior or gentleness, good or bad language. Our parents are the first models of what it means to be human, and for children in a classroom setting, we must exact the same high standards. Quality and beauty of the environment and the books, and materials is very important in attracting, satisfying, and keeping the attention of the child. All of us have been influenced by our first environment, and nothing helps create beauty in the world as much as giving beauty to the very young.
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