Toddler Community (16 Months – 3 years)
When young children are stable walkers and at least 15 months, they are ready to join the Toddler Community. The program is a 3, 4 or 5-day program with the option for children to attend half, regular, or extended day programs. Morning and afternoon snack are served, with children bringing a healthy, balanced lunch from home. For children who attend the full or all day program, there will be an opportunity to nap. The goal of this program is to provide the young child with a learning experience away from home and parents, to foster independence and a healthy self-image, and to develop a positive attitude toward learning.
“If you consider the matter carefully you will see there is something more than growth in the first three years of life. The child before us is something that borders on the marvelous.”
– Maria Montessori
Early childhood education has come to accept today what Maria Montessori discovered so long ago: children under six have extraordinary, often untapped mental capacity. They possess a once in a lifetime ability to absorb knowledge from their surroundings just by living. This “absorbent mind” is at its peak receptivity during the first six years of age, when the personality is established. The toddler program not only enhances children’s knowledge, independence, and trust in their own abilities, but it also establishes a foundation for the rest of their lives.
Toddlers are curious, active learners who use their senses to gain information about the world around them. A beautiful, safe and orderly environment has been specially prepared to meet the young child’s need to move freely, to explore, to make discoveries, to develop language skills and to grow in independence. The children are drawn to the attractive materials equipped with small tools that provide successful experiences.
The Toddler Community is divided into several areas in which the children move freely throughout the day. Practical Life activities include sweeping the floor, dusting, caring for plants, shoveling, etc. The child is familiar with these activities from home and enjoy taking care of the environment. Performing these activities develops a strong sense of order, self-confidence, concentration, and helps to promote the child’s need for independence.
The children also have opportunities to care for themselves as they learn to dress and undress themselves. In the beginning, loose fitting, easy on and off clothes that are free of zippers, snaps, and buttons, help the children develop their ability to do it themselves. Children are often observed helping on another put on a sock or slipper as they work together to get dressed.
Learning to use the toilet independently is another important part of the child’s independence. Many children develop an interest through observing other children. When children are showing signs of readiness, we work closely with the child and family to support the child with a stress-free approach. By respecting each child’s individual pace of development, it happened in a very natural way.
Developing spoken language and learning how to communicate with others is another important part of the toddler’s environment. At this age, the child has a natural burst in language. We support this through many different language materials and activities that encourage learning vocabulary and participating in conversations. Every day the children enjoy poems, books, songs, and finger play together.
There are many ways that the child is provided opportunities to develop his or her fine motor and large motor skills. Indoors, there are fine motor activities including puzzles, stringing beads, using scissors, playing musical instruments, etc. Children also develop their fine motor skills through many art activities such as painting at the easel or with watercolors, working with clay, gluing, etc.
The child will also have opportunities each day to spend time outdoors to enjoy a variety of large motor activities such as riding tricycles, playing with balls, walking on a balance beam, enjoying time in the sandbox, etc.