In our Parent/Toddler program, children ages 18 months to 3 years are introduced to the foundations of Montessori, including independence, self-reliance, grace and courtesy. Toddlers become aware of how a Montessori classroom works; selecting an activity, taking it to the work area, attempting it, packing it up and putting it back. The environment is all about order so the toddlers can build confidence. Parents are taught how to let their children do things for themselves, which allows them to adopt the Montessori approach at home.
Visitors visibly relax when they enter the Parent/Toddler classroom because the atmosphere is so well ordered. Toddlers work alongside parents and guides—the children are focussed, looking right at home in their new environment. Toddlers take an occasional break from activities to find the snack table and have a quick bite to eat. They use ceramic bowls, drink water from glasses and use real cutlery. They return to their activity having learnt a little more about practical life and looking after themselves.
This is a normal morning in a Montessori International College Parent/Toddlers program classroom.
The morning starts at 9am. A toddler cuts strawberries with an egg slicer which teaches her food preparation and builds basic motor skills. A 2 year old with his parent by his side works out a puzzle and along the way learns about the perception of patterns and trial and error. Nearby a guide explains to a parent about one of the activities, how it is used and what it achieves.
A question from a parent about how to develop a child’s fine motor skills leads to a discussion about the benefits of the pouring exercise where a toddler transfers water from one jug to another. This allows them to use judgement, hone hand-eye co-ordination and control their muscles – if there’s a spill the child learns to wipe it up and try again. This reinforces the Montessori philosophy that nothing is a mistake – everything is a learning opportunity.
At a quarter to eleven the program starts to wind down for the day with a stories, songs and action rhymes. Parents are given handouts to help prepare for the next class, and help them continue at home what they have learnt in the classroom.
In our classrooms children turn real-life experiences into ideas and concepts, so they can make sense of the world they live in. It’s hands-on learning. They finish the day wanting to do more, and looking forward to tomorrow. At Montessori International College our children discuss, scrutinize, question, unearth, make friends, play, resolve conflicts, and grow.
It’s Schooling Reimagined.