The Montessori Toddler environment is carefully prepared to aid the toddler in achieving independence. Children who are now comfortably walking “leave the nest” and move to a space that fits their growing physical needs. A toddler toileting area encourages beginning training and bathroom independence. At this stage, we stress social interaction with other children, development of language and practical life skills, and music and movement activities. The curriculum also includes activities that allow the young children to develop fine and gross motor coordination and visual discrimination through the senses and learning materials.
Early practical life activities for toddlers are a great stepping stone for further learning. A child learns to master his or her environment by learning skills for independence, and mastery of these skills paves the way to intellectual learning. Completion of practical life skills seems to put a longing for intellectual learning for young children. Early practical life activities help to develop confidence as they learn how to take off and put on their own shoes, pour their own water, and clean up their own spills. A growing conviction of “I can do it” grows within the child as they explore their learning environment and engage with a wide range of educational materials designed just for them.
Through the sensorial area, the child is given the facilities to make clear concepts and classifications for all the information they have gathered thus far through their sensory perceptions. The sensorial materials help to order the child’s mind by isolating and emphasizing one quality at a time (i.e. size, gradation). Through the physical manipulation of materials in this area, the child begins to categorize and order the objects in their world.
By nature, everyone is mathematical. We are all born with a mathematical mind, which isn’t something that we create, but something we need to awaken it into consciousness. Through exercises offered to the child, the child prepares for the emergence of the mathematical mind that exists. The children are exposed to math materials that help the children develop an awareness of numbers, counting and basic math operations.
Language exercises are offered to the child as an aid to the child’s own developmental process for language. We work on the mastery of spoken language. Also, at this stage the children also have access to a special language area with materials to develop the preliminary skills for writing and reading. Specially-created materials in the room serve to give the children a sense of satisfaction and become more independent in their learning.
Cultural areas include art, geography, music, science and foreign language. In the toddler program, children will be exposed to these cultural activities within the realm of their prepared environment.
Montessori said it best
But the children seemed to demand some conclusion of the exercises, which had already developed them intellectually in a most surprising way. They knew how to dress and undress, and to bathe themselves; they knew how to sweep the floors, dust the furniture, put the room in order, to open and close boxes, to manage the keys in the various locks; they could replace the objects in the cupboards in perfect order, could care for the plants; they knew how to observe things, and how to see objects with their hands. A number of them came to us and frankly demanded to be taught to read and write. Even in the face of our refusal several children came to school and proudly showed us that they knew how to make an O on the blackboard.