“A child in his earliest years, when he is only two or a little more, is capable of tremendous achievements."
–Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child
The Montessori Toddler classroom is a unique environment where children between the ages of 18 months and three years develop their intellect, movement, and language. Under the guidance of their Lead and Assistant Guides, children gain self-confidence as they work independently at their own pace with carefully designed materials that encourage logical thought, creativity, and responsibility. Purposeful tasks, such as caring for plants or practicing buttoning and unbuttoning, allow children to master valuable skills while developing concentration. The environment abounds with opportunities to practice hand-eye coordination, appreciate music, and develop balance through artistic, musical, and kinesthetic activities. Each day, children experience the self-confidence of completing tasks independently as well as the joy of contributing to the well-being of the classroom community. Children are gently introduced to the rules of the community and find pleasure in being patient, respectful, and polite.
Dr. Maria Montessori observed the strong connection between physical movement and intellectual development, and thus proposed that young children should be free to explore their surroundings. She also observed that a young child’s mind effortlessly takes in everything the child observes and explores. Guided by her careful observations, Dr. Montessori “re-invented” the classroom and created a specially prepared space that suits the interests, needs, and development of young children. In a Montessori Toddler environment, the child’s absorbent mind is offered practical, constructive sensory information. Toddlers thrive in the lovingly prepared environment which accommodates their desire for independence within in the security of appropriate limits.
Practical Life activities allow children to successfully accomplish many of the purposeful daily activities that they observe adults do, such as sweeping, folding, scrubbing, polishing, and setting the table. Through these activities children help to care for their classroom environment while following a logical sequence of steps. Children also practice Self-Care, learning to button, zip, and snap, take off and put on their own shoes, and successfully use the toilet. The classroom environment is rich in Language: thoughtful conversation, songs, and rhymes accompany a wide range of materials designed to enrich vocabulary. Manipulative materials for Sensory-Motor Development encourage refinement of hand-eye coordination. Children also explore musical instruments and artistic media that cultivate Self-Expression. When children play together on the indoor playground or explore nature at local parks, they have many opportunities to develop their motor movements and balance.