The Toddler classroom
provides a stimulating and developmentally fulfilling environment, supporting the young child’s need for exploration and drive for independence. Within the Toddler community the sensitive periods for movement, language, and order are fostered through choices in the curriculum and by the structure of the day.
The toddler curriculum contains components for the Primary curriculum, but varies from it because children 24-36 months old are in a very special stage of development. It is a period characterized by the need to explore everything, move and develop large motor coordination and strength.
The purpose of the Sensorial lessons is to awaken in the child an awareness of himself and the world in which he lives. Montessori called young children “sensorial explorers” and with hands-on materials, the child is able to explore and experience each of the five senses. The sensorial world is still new to the toddler and they learn about their body and how it relates to the environment through their senses. Sense awareness involves learning about dimensions, shapes, colors, tactile, auditory, taste and smell. And that learning comes through a child’s sensorial experiences as he/she moves about and interacts with the environment. The materials allow the toddler to explore each of the five sense areas.
Practical Life (Daily Living)
The purpose of the Practical Life activities is to instill in the child a sense of order, independence, and respect for himself, others, and the environment around him. A toddler is starting to separate from his parents and realize that he/she is an individual and the practical life materials aid in his/her quest for independence. The exercises and materials of the lessons prepare the child to care for him/herself and his/her environment on a daily basis. Care of self is the major emphasis in the toddler environment. Stand-up diapering, individual snack, and a long period of work support the toddler’s efforts toward independence. As the child works with the practical life materials, he/she develops the concentration, coordination (particularly eye-hand coordination), and motor skills needed in other areas of learning. The practical life curriculum allows the child to develop a meaningful degree of independence and self-discipline. It also sets a pattern for a lifetime of good work habits and a sense of responsibility. This process helps them develop an inner sense of order and a higher ability to concentrate and follow a complex sequence of steps.
The purpose of the Language area is to help the child learn to express himself and to communicate with others. Every aspect of the toddler environment supports language development. Language develops through usage and for this reason the language area is very rich in nomenclature and naming. At this age the toddler has a huge expansion into language. The children develop a capacity to create symbols, images and concepts and become aware of him/herself as a separate and independent person. Additionally, toddlers, with their budding language skills, have the desire to learn new words and practice speaking them. The Toddler environment provides ample opportunities for him/her to develop social skills through interaction with peers and adults. During group time we share stories and songs; we talk and read about families, our community, other cultures, and holidays or special events in our life.
The purpose of the Math activities is to introduce to the child number recognition, one to one correspondence, and simple counting (1-5 or 1-10 or higher when appropriate). Toddlers are curious about everything and need to touch and manipulate objects in order to learn. In the toddler math area simple concepts of numbers are introduced through songs, counting games, and manipulative materials. As the toddler works with manipulative activities such as puzzles and counting objects, the toddler’s understanding of number concepts and sequence gains substance. The use of knobbed puzzles and other toys with a special grip will prepare the child for writing and other fine muscle activities, while it satisfies his/her need to think and solve problems. It is specifically the use of the thumb and index finger (the pincer grasp) that are a precursor for writing.