The toddler community is a unique place for the youngest children at COLM. It is not a watered down version of the primary class, nor is it focused on academic preparation. Instead, it offers children a special time of self-construction in a gentle atmosphere of understanding, respect, and support.
Of fundamental importance is the separation of the child from his or her primary caretaker. As the toddlers become comfortable with their new environment, they learn to trust the teachers and the other children in the community. Often times, this is his or her first school experience, and it's very important to us to make sure it is a positive one.
The toddlers start their day by changing from 'outside' shoes to 'inside shoes'. This routine gives them a sense of security and a few moments to settle into the classroom. Ms. Oana greets each child individually and helps get the day off to a great start.
Simple sensorial activities in the classroom respond to the toddler's urge to use all their senses - indeed their whole bodies - to explore everything around them. The toddler program also accommodates the child's sensitive period for language by offering many opportunities to expand their growing vocabularies. Conversations, stories, poems, games, and objects all nurture budding language skills.
Many activities in the toddler classroom highlight self-help skills that lead to independence. Children are gently encouraged to do things for themselves and problem solve. Since this is an age of very strong imitation, the teachers constantly model appropriate social skills, good manners, and consideration of others.
Through song, dance, and freedom of choice, the toddlers have access to a variety of large and small muscle activities. These activities offer opportunities to jump, climb, balance, cut, draw, squeeze, peel, pour, spoon and so much more. The freedom in a safe space is crucial to developing skills that will build a foundation not only for later academic work, but for independent life skills.
Pictured above is a Practical Life material. The dressing frames aid the child in learning how to zip, button, and snap. We also have tools for taking care of the environment. You have probably noticed your child loves to help at home. The activities pictured allow the child to sweep, dust, water plants, and wash windows.
Food preparation is always a popular practical life activity in the toddler community. The child pictured below is making orange juice. First, he squeezes the orange, then he pours it into a small cup. Finally, he enjoys the homemade fresh-squeezed orange juice!
This is another Practical Life activity - dish washing. After using dishes for food preparation, snack, or lunch, the children wash their dish in the basin on the left. They place it in the drying rack on the right to dry. Later, the adults wash and sanitize the dishes. The children love contributing to the community in this way.
Washing the napkins and place mats used for lunch and snack is a practical life activity that incorporates concentration, order, and motor skills.
Above is the art and music area. The children are able to explore making sounds with different types of instruments, as well as listening to music and singing together daily. Some of the art materials include gluing, painting, and using clay. Clay is wonderful for developing hand strength.
The fish tank is always a source of interest for the children. Feeding the fish is a great way to help care for living things in the environment. The toddlers love seeing the fish's fins move and their mouths open and close.
As we mentioned before, language is an essential component of the Toddler Community. This is the reading corner, where the children can 'read' their own special chair. We also spend time daily reading as a group and playing various language games. Ms. Oana is our French teacher and she incorporates age appropriate vocabulary games, poems, and songs into the day.
The toddlers enjoy spending time daily outside in our garden. This natural play area is designed to encourage creative play, and the children help take care of the flowers, vegetables and herbs grown here. It is also a certified Schoolyard Habitat.
We have a delightful group of toddlers in our community this year, and we are excited to grow with you in 2018! Thank you for joining us for a glimpse into our day. If you'd like to read more about the toddler curriculum, please click here.
We are an AMI accredited Montessori school growing daily in spirit & intellect!