>>>Please note that most children enter Montessori East at age 3 into one of our three Primary classrooms. If a Toddler applicant is placed on our waiting list and would be the correct age for Primary, a new application (though no new application fee) is required.<<<
In a Montessori Toddler community there are four main ways a young child is supported:
movement, communication, independence and self-discipline.
We support movement in very young children by creating an open space of beauty adorned with child proportioned furniture and activities. The adults are brought to the child's level, never the other way around. This gives the young child more opportunity to exercise their growing body and to achieve milestones. You will not see common hindrances to movement such as high chairs, cribs, walkers, play gyms or swings. Children creep, crawl, and then walk freely toward enticing, naturally made objects and activities appropriate to their developmental interest.
Though still learning to form sounds and words, they do communicate with their voice and their body. We, as Montessori educators, are keenly aware of signs of communication. We use language as much as possible when working with infants and young children. When an infant needs to be lifted, moved, or soothed, we explain ourselves verbally as well as act physically. This level of respect is a pillar of being in a Montessori environment. When the child approaches 18 months, there is typically a language explosion. This is met with offering the child new vocabulary and more opportunities to communicate.
We support your child's independence through working, dressing, eating, sleeping, and toileting. The way this is done varies according to age. We don't rush the eating and dressing of infants. We include them in the process as much as possible. We are keenly watching for sleep indicators and routines, encouraging an eat/play/sleep routine as much as possible. When your child has more control over his/her body, dressing, eating and toileting will be shown carefully and with patience to ensure pleasure and peace as your child reaches important milestones. We encourage the use of a toilet as young as 14 months and offer child-sized equipment to practice. Even the youngest child can concentrate on a task. This concentration is observed, respected and uninterrupted in a Nido environment. If we observe an infant attempting to reach a plush ball, we will allow that person to strive and reach without injecting our own personality into his/her experience. The same goes for a toddler attempting to pour out a bucket or using the velcro on their clothing.
Opportunities for the young child to develop self-discipline are found throughout a Nido environment. We have child-sized materials for children to clean up after themselves and countless opportunities to make choices. Our teachers are trained to set appropriate, respectful limits to keep the children safe and calm. We let the children develop socially in a natural way. We do not praise,but rather encourage. We do not force sharing, rather we respect concentration and positive interactions with materials and encourage respect and patience. When tantrums occur, we provide a safe place for the child to process their emotions, remaining calm ourselves. We observe the cause of the tantrum and address solutions and prevention, not the tantrum itself. Often high emotions can be calmed by respectful acknowledgment of a child's feelings. This can be done without "giving in" to their tantrum, but rather by validation of strong feelings.
Through supporting these natural developmental patterns in your young child, we are helping to provide a foundation for a lifetime of joyful learning.