A Typical Montessori Toddler Day
It is common for parents of 2-3-year-olds to perceive a Montessori school as a daycare facility. It is true that toddlers receive good care at Villa Montessori Leesburg and spend some quality time away from home in the company of friends and teachers. However, Montessori classrooms offer much more than daycare facilities. Now you may wonder how toddlers learn so much more in a Montessori preschool.
Toddlers are in their sensitive period of development – an age where they can observe and acquire everything around them, be it life skills, movements, or language. At this age, they can learn everything effortlessly unlike any other time in their lives for nature gradually weans them of this ability as they age. Hence, they should be provided opportunities to learn lessons that will stay with them for life.
A Montessori classroom is inviting, rich with materials yet uncluttered; it provides opportunities for the toddlers to explore, choose lessons they will love to work with, and remember those lessons for life. Toddlers start right away to develop their sense of self-worth and independence and begin to understand they are essential and valued members of their environment.
“Education is not something which a teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but by virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment,” The Absorbent Mind.
To better understand how a toddler learns in a Montessori classroom, let us take you through a typical toddler day.
A Typical Montessori Toddler Day
Toddlers thrive on routines. A typical day begins with them walking into class carrying their backpacks and greeting their friends and teachers. As they prepare for work, they slowly put their backpacks on their hooks, swap out their outdoor shoes for indoor ones, wash their hands, and get ready for the day ahead.
The uninterrupted morning work cycle begins with individual or small group lessons from the practical life or sensorial area. As part of the practical life lessons, toddlers learn valuable life skills:
- Care of themselves
- Grace and courtesy
- Control of movements
- Care of their surroundings
So, our toddlers are engaged in activities such as pouring, sorting, flower arrangement, setting a table, cleaning, learning to button and zip, putting on shoes, or walking on the line. You may also notice them learning to say the magic words of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ as well as learning patience as they wait their turn.
With practical life lessons come the control of movements, refinement of fine motor skills, increased concentration, and independence. Besides the practical lessons, puzzles are yet another interest for the toddlers. Identifying the different shapes, colors, and sizes enhances the visual and sensorial experience. Children learn best when they can activate all their senses. The sensitive period begins from birth and lasts up to 6 years, hence Dr. Montessori created concrete materials so children can use their hands and learn with their senses that will create lasting impressions.
Having satisfied their inner core, after working with individual lessons, the toddlers get to sit together with their friends for their community time (aka circle time) and learn how to listen or wait for their turn to speak. It is also during this time there is greater emphasis on language via pictures, books, songs, objects, and stories.
Language is one of the skills that toddlers easily acquire and reproduce. It is astonishing to see how quickly a toddler's vocabulary and verbal abilities develop. Considering the sensitive period of toddlers, our Montessori classrooms has a plethora of language lessons providing opportunities for toddlers to receive and produce the language. To give a glimpse, our children are introduced to the sounds of the alphabet, and our teachers use the right nomenclature for the toddlers to follow. Baby talk is a big ‘no’ in a Montessori classroom.
As the children sit down for snack after the community time and having washed their hands, you will be amazed to see how these same toddlers who may be fed at home can eat on their own. Yes, there are spills, but the toddlers can clean up without any interference or help from an adult.
While the toddler classroom is designed for free movement to aid gross motor skills development, the benefit of outdoor play on a child’s physical development is immense. Dr. Montessori was a staunch advocate of outdoor activities and nature-based play. Keeping in mind Dr. Montessori’s view and taking into consideration the weather conditions for the day, our teachers guide the toddlers as they ready themselves for their outdoor routine. They change to their outdoor shoes and put on appropriate outerwear based on the weather conditions, and then line up to go outside in an orderly manner.
After running, jumping, and exploring, the toddlers return to their classroom. Remember, these activities do not happen within our classrooms for children use their inner voices and walking feet.
Back in the classroom, after changing to indoor shoes and washing hands, our toddlers settle down to work again on projects based on themes for the week. Toddlers enjoy cooking, mixing, whipping, or stirring, and love cutting up fruits or vegetables. Whether it's learning the sound ‘S' for strawberries or snakes, or cutting strawberries to make strawberry shakes, it is a practical life activity, a sensorial lesson, language, or even a math lesson all rolled into one.
The afternoon cycle begins with lunch followed by nap. The toddlers love to help put the cots out working their gross motor skills again. After a silent and sound nap, they wake up for an afternoon snack and another outdoor play session. The late afternoon time is all about creative play and imitation with our Reggio Emilia inspired program. This is the time the children get to play with their Legos, train tracks, building blocks and much more. It is also during this time our children learn about the artist and composer of the month and create works inspired by them. Visit us to hear our Alexa play the composer of the month through our hallways and common areas.
Did we forget to mention the most important lesson that happens in the Toddler classroom? Potty training or independent toilet training — a dreaded lesson for parents. The Montessori approach does not use rewards or punishments when the job does or does not get done. Our approach relies on the readiness of the child. Our caring teachers invite the child when ready and make it a positive experience rather than a dreaded one. Interested in learning more about our premier school in the Leesburg area and our toddler program? Book a tour today and see for yourself the magic of Montessori.