From the moment a child is born, the journey towards independence and self-discovery is well underway. The toddler, a naturally curious creature so eager to do for himself, is proof of this. We at CMS believe, as Maria Montessori did, that the early period of life between 18 and 36 months is crucial to all future development. In this stage, children learn not by abstract thought, but by absorbing their environment through sensory experience. Our Toddler Program is designed with this principle in mind. By providing a safe, loving atmosphere we give each child the freedom and security to explore the beautifully furnished environment thoughtfully tailored to his or her development. This opportunity for exploration begins shortly after arrival, when the morning work cycle begins. The toddlers may explore the entire space, choosing to work freely with whatever materials appeal to their interests. These materials are not confined to the indoor space, as the students also have the Toddler Garden available to them: a gated extension of the classroom with outdoor work materials, as well as all of nature’s beauty and wonders. At the end of the morning work cycle, the toddlers make their way, as a group, to the outdoor gross motor environment where they enjoy mastering such imperative skills as climbing, jumping and balancing. From the outdoor gross motor area, first dismissal occurs at 11:15am.
“The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth.”
The toddler, given the opportunity, begins to strengthen not only his senses at CMS, but his independence, as he makes choices and takes responsibility in caring for himself and his surroundings. Part of this newfound independence includes self-care tasks, such as toileting and handwashing. Children play an integral part in every aspect of their own hygiene, from helping to remove and dispose of their own diaper, to washing their face after meals. Children are also highly involved in meal prep. The students set their own place at the table, and with assistance from the Teacher, prepare the snack for the day as a group. Snack is available to full-day students twice a day, from 9:00am to 10:00am and from 2:00pm to 3:00pm. Allowing a window for children to have snack, rather than enforcing a strict meal time, presents the opportunity for learning to listen to bodily cues; when children feel hungry, they’re able to eat, and when they’ve eaten their serving or if they become full, they’re able to return to their work. Lunch is served as a group at approximately 11:30am each morning, with “Quiet Time” following, from noon until 2:00pm. During this rest period, children are able to sleep (an important part of development at this stage) or rest quietly on their cot, if they choose. This is the perfect opportunity for the Toddler to begin acquiring self-coping skills, as he learns to fall asleep independently, or rest comfortably, in his own space, at his own pace.
With an emphasis on language acquisition, self-care, and motor development, our Montessori-certified Educarers and their assistants, act as “Aids to Life”by carefully curating the prepared environment, and modeling appropriate behavior. A large component of caring for the environment is observation; the children allow us to understand their developmental needs by displaying them in the materials they choose, and how they interact with those materials. From these insights, the Teachers supplement the learning environment by creating and adding to the shelves new materials to appeal directly to the needs and interests of specific students. Sharing the conviction that every child deserves to be treated lovingly, with respect and dignity, our staff is also able to consistently meet the emotional, physical and social needs of each unique individual. Freedom of expression about their own ideas and needs are encouraged and lovingly received. Growth and grace occur naturally in this nurturing space, and the toddlers in our care comprise a true community: learning and sharing with one another for the betterment of the whole.