The Toddler environment encourages freedom of movement, an atmosphere of respect, and the growth of independence. The routine for the classroom is orderly and simple to support the child’s strong need for order and predictability. The classroom is organized with shelves holding activities for the different areas of the curriculum- Practical Life, Sensorial, Language Development, Art, Puzzles and manipulative materials and a self-serve snack area. All furniture and shelves are child-sized so that the child can choose and access work independently. Based on continual observation by the teachers, materials are rotated to meet the children’s ever-changing developmental needs. All of the materials relate to a specific skill or task and possess a control of error.
Children are encouraged to choose work freely. At the beginning of the year, the main focus of the program is to help children establish a feeling of trust that will allow them to separate from their parents with ease. Parents play an important part in this process and may be encouraged to stay in the classroom until the child has formed a bond with the teacher. Home visits prior to the start of school are also an important first step in this process.
Toddlers are at a heightened period for learning languages, which Maria Montessori called “the sensitive period.” Researchers today call it a “window of opportunity.” Children from birth through age 6 are wired to absorb any language, as well as absorbing multiple languages concurrently.
Communication skills are an integral part of the GMS curriculum. As the children’s verbal skills increase, our teachers encourage the children to use words to express their needs and feelings to each other. It is not unusual to hear a toddler say to another toddler, “I don’t like that. Stop!” or, “My work,” when one child is doing something the other child does not like. It is also typical to hear “it’s so good to see you today,” from one toddler to another. Communication is an important part of the GMS curriculum – especially learning how to communicate appropriately in difficult situations- and is more easily learned at the beginning of language learning.
Movement is as important to toddlers as eating, so each day our toddlers spend time outside developing their large motor skills. Our toddler playground features various climbing apparatuses, a large covered sandbox, and a track for riding scooters, tricycles, and foot propelled cars. As in each of the other divisions, toddlers have access to gardens for planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting. Having unstructured time to explore nature is vital for a child’s development so, once the children are acclimated to their new class and playground environments, they enjoy taking walks and exploring the wooded areas on the school campus.