18 Months to 3 Years Old

As the child begins to walk, climb and communicate the physical closeness of infancy passes and the child moves about with new abilities, constantly exploring the immediate environment. The adult now practices vigilance as the child, with the adult always in sight, moves outward, ever widening their sphere and driven by the irresistible urge to move and explore. To do for himself and by himself is the first step to independence, but for the toddler it is a process that must be sheltered and supported.

Montessori noted this irresistible urge which unites the child’s activity and their interest in things. It is like the “Push-me—Pull-me” llama in the story of Doctor Dolittle, the toddler’s urge is to be close to the adult but also to move freely, exploring and handling everything in reach. Now is the time for the toddler to begin on the road to both physical and emotional independence. The Toddler Realm at the Winston-Salem Montessori School provides the sheltered support and the content oversight in a uniquely designed environment that allows the child to learn skills and develop their physical coordination.

Montessori recognized the young child’s interests in doing things they saw adults do and observed the child’s frustrated attempts to use adult tools and furnishings without success. The Toddler Realm is thoughtfully designed with real tools and child sized furnishings to make it possible for the child to “do house”, not just play house. She discovered the satisfaction and independence that these activities provided the young child. Dr. Montessori, at the turn of the century, was the inventor of child sized tools and furniture that we now take for granted. For the child the tedious chores in the adult’s world become the liberating activities in the Toddler Realm that are in part the great work of this developmental cycle.

The Toddler Program is for children who are 18 months to 3 years old. Each class consists of up to 12 children with a Montessori-certified lead guide and an assistant. Children are introduced to Montessori concepts of respect, order, concentration, coordination and independence through their work and social interactions.

Dedicated, nurturing trained teachers accompany a toddler on his/her journey, offering guidance within the well-designed curriculum.  The main focus areas are fostering cognitive/ speech/language development, developing fine motor and gross motor skills, introducing grace and courtesy lessons, and promoting independence. 

From a young age, children want to actively participate in their learning and mastery (how many times have parents heard their young child say “Me do!”).  A Montessori toddler classroom respects and nurtures a child’s natural inclination and promotes a toddler’s independence through hands-on experiences, everything from washing of hands before snack to putting on jackets using the ‘kindergarten flip’.  Of course, independent toileting is the work of a toddler, and our toddler teachers partner with parents to identify readiness and support each toddler on their path to full toileting independence. 

Toddlers are natural explorers, curious about the world around them.  They actively engage with everything in their environments, taking in information through their senses.  As Dr. Montessori said, “The hand is the instrument of the mind”.  Montessori Toddler classrooms are carefully prepared to provide a safe, developmentally appropriate setting to satisfy a child’s curiosity and desire to learn by doing. 

A unique feature of our classrooms is our outdoor patio space which the children like to call their ‘backyards.’  It’s an extension of the classroom environments, creating places for the children to enjoy the natural setting.  

Developing a strong connection with the natural world is a value we hold, thus children are provided multiple opportunities each day to be outside.  Each Toddler outside patio is an extension of the in-classroom learning space.  Children move freely between the two environments, creating as little separation as possible between the inside and the natural world.  Additionally, our playgound area provides a variety of sensorial opportunities to explore through the senses, smelling and touching beautiful native plants, flowers and trees.  Our ‘loose parts’ area contains tree stumps, logs and other natural materials that the children can climb on, look under and feel and marvel at their rich textures.

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