Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” ~Maria Montessori
A natural environment for a child is one that provides wise and observant caregivers and an interesting and safe place for the child to explore, and develop their abilities. The Montessori Infant/Toddler (6 Weeks -12 months)(12-23 months) community offers very young children the unique experience of self-development in a tender school atmosphere of special understanding, respect, and support. Often this is the child’s first experience beyond the family, so it must be a nurturing place where the child can connect with an adult who makes him feel loved, and who fosters an ongoing relationship that supports his quest for independence.
The Toddler environment is focused on supporting the child as he acquires the skills to “do it myself.” Children are allowed freedom of movement to explore and manipulate the objects in the environment, and they are given the time they need to accomplish their work. Activities change and evolve as the child grows. The specially prepared Montessori environment allows the toddler to develop and refine movements, increase language, and launch into social relationships with peers. The freedom to explore is tempered by three basic ground rules that will be beneficial for a lifetime—respect of self, respect for others, and respect for the environment.
The educational journey begins with the most important elements —love, care, respect, and discovery. This is the environment in which our youngest students thrive, creating an unshakable foundation for lifelong learning. To give these new learners the sense of well-being and security they need, their classroom space is beautifully designed to appeal to their curiosity, including an area for large-motor development, a spacious outdoor space, cubbies where children keep their own clothing, family photos, and fresh flowers. Our staff rotates classroom works, books, manipulative, and musical instruments on a regular basis.
Planting the seeds of success
We instill in our Toddlers the basic values and skills that will serve them for a lifetime. At this young age their language abilities are just beginning to emerge, so we spend considerable time helping them learn to associate specific letters with sounds, naming and matching objects and of course, singing, with music playing a huge role in this process through the integration of songs that help children develop language skills. These are the first steps on their journey of intellectual discovery and, even though they might not be aware of it, little games like putting different objects in baskets marked by a corresponding letter represent their first taste of reading. In addition to cognitive development, these years are also time for enormous physical strides. Gross and fine motor skills are emphasized, as we play games and participate in activities that improve coordination and stamina, as well as pincer muscles. We also expand learning outside the four walls of the classroom, spending as much time as possible outside — even during the summer months — to create an appreciation for an active lifestyle. This also offers children their first taste of independence, by giving them the responsibility of dressing themselves for the outdoors.