"A peek into the carefully curated world of the young child's classroom" by Heather Sundquist, AMS TOTs Program Lead
The Toddler Environment is curated with the intention of supporting the development of the child’s self identity as well as sowing seeds for a curious learner.
The Montessori guides are trained in understanding the divine sense of order that toddlers possess and provide as many opportunities as possible for them to dive into the free exploration they crave to allow their curious minds to percolate.
The materials found in the classroom (their work and play) and the leadership of the guides afford a rich stimulating experience that supports the child’s innate needs and fuels what Dr. Montessori described as the absorbent mind. Since this is often so many of the students' first time away from home, we begin the year by grounding the class community in comfort and familiarity. You will find smaller versions of things you’d see in a home, like furniture, dish washing bins, dust pans, squeegee and spray bottles in our Practical Life area. These “works” allow the children the opportunity to try out things they see being used at home.
This process sets the tone for what it is really like to be in a community, only in the case of the Montessori classroom, the size of the materials removes many of the obstacles that can frustrate or create distance between the child and the act. These materials lead to opportunities feed the child’s brain, introducing a deeper understanding of cause and effect. As the children develop, it supports their understanding of the importance of caring for others and and their physical environment. The guides focus on supporting each child where they are developmentally and use the first six weeks of their time together, to really learn what their verbal and nonverbal cues are, understand what makes them tick, and what drives their needs and interests.
Every small experience in the Montessori room affords the child the opportunity to explore. Whether it is learning to take turns, learning to wait, or how to ask for help, these foundational building blocks are what the children build on and use to guide them as they begin to develop bonds with peers and the new adults in their lives.
As the children internalize both expressive and receptive language skills, and as their concentration deepens on tasks, we find the children more curious about understanding trial and error and even more playful games that involve their budding imagination. This engagement takes the form of mimicking things they may see. As they get closer to the age of three, their relationship with playing with others invites more experimentation with creative games and made up games.
These new skills may feel very minute in the grand scheme of our complex relationships and creative brains, but for a curious toddler, these small steps take some time to internalize and foster the development of the individual. Providing as rich an environment as possible, including lots of vocabulary, expressive opportunities like art, music, and dance, all help build foundational skills that will allow the children to develop a positive relationship with themselves, their friends, and their imagination.
Now that we have reached the six-week mark at school, invite your toddler to show you what they know by providing them with the right tools! Enjoy cleaning your home together!