The Playgroup program, for children 18 months and up, takes advantage of the toddler’s natural drive to act independently. Learning to care for themselves – washing hands, putting on jackets – and do it themselves is an important part of the toddlers’ work. In this language-rich environment, teachers support and guide toddlers as they explore order and disorder, and refine their emerging motor skills. Outdoor play is part of the daily routine.
Toddler exercises and activities recognize that children learn by doing. Classroom materials are always accessible, attractive, safe, and geared for a child’s success. Activities are changed regularly in response to children’s need for variety and challenge as they grow and learn. The safe, loving, gentle atmosphere puts children and parents at ease and makes for a trusting, spontaneous transition to school. The Playgroup program is scheduled five days a week. After their Toddler year, children join our Nursery program.
Each curriculum area of the Montessori classroom emphasizes specific skills, but there is dynamic interplay among the areas, enhancing children’s natural learning process.
Practical Life activities form the cornerstone of the Montessori classroom and prepare the child for all other areas. The emphasis is on process rather than on product. Through the repetition of Practical Life activities, children develop and refine the basic skills that will serve them all their lives. The Toddler classroom offers the early Practical Life exercises, such as Pouring, Opening and Closing, Spooning, Bead Stringing, Polishing and Large Water Activities. These activities are aimed at enhancing the child’s development of fine motor control, hand-eye coordination, balance, sense of order, concentration and independence.
Around the age of two, children’s speech development experiences an explosion of words, soon followed by sentences. The Language materials in the Toddler classroom encourage the refinement and enrichment of language as the first steps on the road to writing and finally reading. Early Language materials and oral exercises like storytelling and reading aloud support the toddler’s need to be immersed in language. Activities include books, puzzles, naming objects like fruits, vegetables and animals, and beginning sound games.
Sensorial activities assist Toddlers in the great task of organizing, integrating and learning about their sensory input. We all learn through our senses, and this is especially true of very young children who are at the beginning of taking in and understanding the world around them. Sensorial materials include Knobbed Cylinders for practice with dimension, Color Paddles, tactile exercises like Rough and Smooth, Musical Equipment, Sorting and Shapes.
To help prepare the mathematical mind, Toddlers are exposed to the world of numbers through counting games and concrete materials. These exercises encourage the development of important pre-math skills such as order, sequence, visual discrimination, sorting, one-to-one correspondence and directionality. Toddler Math activities include stacking and nesting cubes, number blocks and puzzles, and sorting and counting materials.