“From the earliest days of life, the youngest among us are accorded with measures of commitment and esteem that echo our deepest understanding of respect.”
This is the first of three posts about the Montessori Toddler Classroom at Montessori Preschool @ Copperfield.
Part I discusses the beginning of the school day and the Sensorial Montessori work found in the Toddler Classroom.
Our toddler environment (Ages 18 months – 2 ½ years) is specially prepared to provide toddlers many opportunities to explore the natural world, acquire language, and develop socially and independently. The Montessori Method teaches children to care for their environment, themselves, and one another with love and respect.
The Schedule: A Summary
The day starts with the child arriving at school – the child hangs her lunch box and jacket on a hook near her cubby and joins the class for a group lesson. The teacher leads the class in the pledge of allegiance and discusses the date, the days of the week, and an introductory lesson. Children are then dismissed to begin the Montessori work period. The child normally will get a rug and unroll it, and the unrolled rug delineates her individual work space.
This work period encourages toddlers to find their own activities and engage in hands-on lessons to develop concentration, independence, and self-reliance. The teacher also interacts with the children to develop vocabulary and communication skills. The work day concludes with outside play time, lunch, and nap time.
Sensorial in the Toddler Classroom
The Toddler Classroom is also divided into areas common in the Montessori classroom, including Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, and Language.
Sensorial materials in the Toddler Classroom are designed to hone the child’s senses – to develop keen perception for the world around her. For example, a popular material is the Color Tablets – brightly colored wooded planes that are used for matching colors.
However, this is not a simple exercise. The child is taught discipline and concentration by placing the tablets in an organized way in their defined space.
Another classic exercise is the Sound Cylinders. The child holds up cylinders containing various sized grains to their ear and shake them. The different grains produce different sounds, and the child is asked to grade the cylinders from the loudest sound to the softest sound.
Finally, the Montessori Method is often epitomized by Pink Tower and Brown Stair. To most viewers, these appear to be blocks that can be stacked like common building blocks. But the emphasis is not on building, but on understanding the varying size of the blocks. By holding the individual blocks of wood and feeling the varying sizes, children begin to understand the concepts of large and small and the varying degrees of size that exist.
It’s common for children’s manipulatives to show a simplistic view of the world – a world that is red or blue, large or small. However, the Montessori Method offers an alternative view – materials are designed to show the complexities of the world we live in – reds and blues come in many different hues and size is often relative based on a comparison.
Read Parts II and III
Read Part II
Read Part III
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