In light of the current public health crisis, the GMS community has responded by moving our classrooms outdoors, where fresh air is everywhere and the risk of contagion is reduced. While this bold move has had its share of challenges, we are seeing the staff and students settle into their new environments and get in the groove with all of the new ways of learning and being together. In addition to the traditional Montessori materials and lessons that we are able to bring outdoors, we are finding many ways that the outdoor environment serves as a source of learning for our students through nature exploration, enhanced botany and science lessons, and a variety of creative pursuits.
Every child is a unique individual that needs to be understood, respected, admired and unconditionally accepted as a precious gift of life.
— Maria Montessori
In our toddler program, the children satisfy their need for hands-on learning and exploration in a safe and enriching environment. The development of language, coordination of fine and gross motor skills, and toilet independence are the focus of this developmental level, in addition to supporting the children in developing independence, self-care skills and a sense of order through a nurturing daily routine.
In our Toddler Classroom there is:
Activities presented give the child every opportunity to become independent and develop self-esteem by contributing to the daily life at school. The classroom is stocked with child-size materials that really work, and the activities show the child that they are a valued and needed member of a community. Adults support the development of a routine for self-care skills, so the children are increasingly able to be independent.
This area gives the child opportunities to use all their senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste), and includes outdoor and indoor activities. Naming, categorizing and identifying common objects and concepts (color, parts of the body) are part of this work. Children identify objects by feel, explore nature, match objects by pattern and texture, and experience and identify different sounds and smells. Development of the senses help the children understand the world around them and build their logical and mathematical mind.
Social, Emotional, and Movement Development:
We start by greeting the child by name, and use social activities to help the child recognize emotions in others. We promote peaceful ways of solving problems and conflict and support the development of self-awareness. Children at this age begin to show interest in others, and start to see the benefits of cooperation and enjoy small-group activities as they practice sharing materials and learning to take turns. We work with the children to develop a repertoire of relaxing body movements and accompanying rhymes and songs, as they are able to imitate body movements. We also make music as a group using simple instruments.
Language and Communication:
We follow the child's progress as he or she begins to learn to communicate, we explore phonetic sounds, and develop and expand vocabulary. We also see the development of visual acuity, as children recognize and name colors, name objects and pictures, practice basic counting, and become aware of phonetic sounds. At this stage, the child begins to understand the concept of adding and subtracting.
Through exploration, and working with materials, children begin to understand object permanence, the concept that objects placed into containers can be retrieved and do not disappear permanently. Activities focus on fine motor skills (threading beads, picking up smaller objects easily, scribbling, drawing and handling scissors) as well as gross motor skills (walking, using the steps, climbing, and walking on a balance beam). Children have a chance to practice eye-hand coordination, visual acuity and manual dexterity. Over time, the ability to concentrate increases, children develop memory, practice making choices, and develop the ability to organize spatially.