Toddler Montessori Program

All the materials present in a Toddler Montessori environment will be in their most basic forms so as to entice the toddler to work and not overwhelm the child. The toddler Montessori classroom is a prepared environment that will meet all of their developmental and social needs. The toddler Montessori teacher plays the role of part caregiver and part guide, who acts as a loving anchor for these young children and help them, discover their love for learning.

Practical life skills play a major role in the development of a toddler child. This curriculum area would consist of scooping, pouring, spooning, lacing and food prep activities. The child would work with wet and dry ingredients with different textures. The Practical Life area would help develop their gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness and increase their attention span and focus. Working in this area also tremendously helps develop their social skills. For a toddler, although the focus may be on developing his/her gross motor skills, many Practical Life area work materials aid the growth of their fine motor skills as well. Children learn how to prep their food, dress themselves and clean up after themselves, which is basically caring for self and the environment.

Simple and basic materials like the pink tower, brown stairs, knobbed cylinder blocks, geometric tray and solids, and color tablets are used in the toddler Montessori classroom. The pink tower and brown stairs help the child sort from smallest to biggest and thickest to thinnest. The knobbed cylinder blocks help the child develop his/her pincer grip while learning to sort based on size. The geometric tray and solids helps the child learn the basic shapes. The color tablets help the child identify the different colors, while also teaching him/her how to match.

Numeral recognition is worked on by using the sand paper numbers. Only a few sand paper numbers will be out on the shelves at the beginning. Basic Math skills such as counting, numeral and quantity recognition are introduced through counting activities, which uses concrete objects to match with the numbers.

The Montessori classroom is rich in language because learning the language is not limited to the language area. The children are read to very often during their work time. They are also introduced to the Sand Paper letters, but only one letter and associated objects are out on the shelf, at any given time. The letter sounds are reinforced as the beginning sounds of tangible objects that they manipulate. Some other materials like the Globe and the Barn with animals are used build their conversation skills. Not only are those materials used to gain knowledge but also to learn basic language components like opposites and build their vocabulary. Toddlers seek and need repetition for their growth and development. They tend to use and reuse the same material many times, seeking comfort and building their confidence at the same time.

In a toddler Montessori room, art work is mostly done based on a theme or objects from nature. For instance, after the teacher takes them out for a nature walk to collect leaves, they may work on leaf rubbing in the classroom using the leaves they collected. During the holiday season, they may make their own candy canes or paint their own dreidels.

Children will be taken outside to play every day, except in case of inclement weather. Playing outdoors is an important part of growth and development, as it improves their muscle tones and reflexes. The Natural Playground acts as an extension of the Montessori environment and encourages the children to continue their sensorial exploration. In case of bad weather, they would still play organized games with their teachers in the classroom that affords them a lot of movement.

It might seem ludicrous to expect toddlers to behave with grace and courtesy. However, children do learn by example, and their teachers will be their role models for good behavior. Teachers will be very clear with each child on their expectation of good behavior from them. A toddler will never be punished for any misbehavior but s/he will be gently reinforced with the consequences of their actions. For instance, if a child uses a work material as a weapon, then that material will be taken away from him/her and s/he would have to apologize for their actions, and consequently her/his attention would be redirected to something more suitable for that current frame of mind. The teachers will model by using appropriate language for all communication. They will also set limits and kindly help the children understand and respect them. Words like “please”, “sorry” and “thank you” will be gently insisted upon.

6:30 am to 8:30 am: Before care program for the children arriving early. The children are welcome to have their breakfast, read, do some art activity and interact with their friends.

8:30 am to 8:40 am: Children, who arrive in time for the morning session, are greeted by the teacher at the door.

8:40 am to 8:50 am: We have our morning circle. Sometimes, there is a lesson for a new activity or a presentation regarding a seasonal subject. We mostly discuss the current topic of the classroom (for example, Apples in the season of fall). Then each child is individually dismissed from circle and invited to choose a job. If all the children are working with focus at this time, the teacher might choose to not have a morning circle.

8:50 am to 10:50 am: Children are either working individually or in small groups. A self-served healthy snack is also available through the day. The teacher’s everyday observation records show her the activities the child has mastered and which lesson should follow next in each area.
The children also spend some time in the reading nook of the classroom, which holds a variety of books relevant to our current subject of our study. The individually planned curriculum is flexible enough to follow the interests of the child and motivate them to try new activities outside their comfort zone.
The classroom, at once, resembles a beehive and a quiet work zone, where all the children are focused on an activity of their choosing. One child may be involved with some concrete math activity like the 45 layout, another may be working with a map in the geography area, and two other children might be working on the moveable alphabets in the language area. Most of our younger children are drawn to the Practical Life area, where they are scooping or pouring and learning life skills.
The children are taught to respect the needs of their classmates, by replacing each material in its proper place so another child knows where to find it, by using their quiet indoor voices to not disturb their friends’ focus on their activities, by sharing, working and playing with children of all ages.

10:50 am to 11:05 am: At 10:50 am, a small, quiet bell is rung and the children finish what they were doing and come to circle.

11:05 am to 11:25 am: At 11:05 am, we go out to play.

11:30 am to 12:00 pm: Lunch for the children.

12:00 pm to 12:15 pm: Clean up after lunch

12:15 pm to 12:30 pm: Recess for the children. Half-day children get picked up at 12:30 pm.

12:30 pm to 1:00 pm: Quiet time for resting.

1:00 pm to 2:30 pm: Work-time for those children who are done with their down time. Nappers continue to nap until they wake up and join their friends in work.

2:30pm to 2:50 pm: Recess

2:50 pm to 3:00 pm: Pick up time for full day children

3:00 pm to 6:30 pm: Those children who have enrolled in the aftercare program will be escorted to the aftercare classroom. The aftercare program includes a small snack, an activity of the day (for instance Dance, Spanish) and outside playtime. The school closes at 6:30 pm, by which time all children must have been picked up.