"He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man's intelligence."
- Maria Montessori
TODDLER COMMUNITY (18 month to 3 years old)
The first six years of life is a period of profound transformation from apparently helpless newborn to capable, active and articulate six year old. This period of life lays down the foundation on which is built the future adults potential. During the first plane of development children have a special capacity for learning and absorbing vast amount of information, a capacity described by Dr.Montessori as The Absorbent Mind.
The Infant Community is an educational environment prepared for toddlers from the time they are walking until they are 3 years of age. Program options are provided, either half-day or full-day child care. The program focuses on the following skills in preparation for our Primary program.
Development of Movement
Activities are designed to help toddlers bring their movement under control of the mind, at the same time as they increase their independence in the environment. Each moment of voluntary movements contributes directly to brain development of the child. The activities include exercises for building whole body coordination, control of the hand and hand-eye coordination, development of gross and fine mortor skills. The activities provided to promote gross motor skills include climbing up and down steps, carrying work trays, moving the charirs. and pushing and pulling toys. Manipulative activities provided for children of this age to promote fine motor skill include bead stringing, hammering, transfering objects with hand or various instruments, puzzles, etc. Very often, the child will repeat the same activities over and over again. The repetition of the activities by the child is fundamentally important because it leads to longer periods of concentration.
Toddlerhood is a sensitive time for children in learning language. Children at this age learn that each object has a name, and they would like to know, listen, and pronounce the name of objects. Toddlers have an opportunity to expand their language use in their first language and also benefit from hearing speakers of other languages. Each area of the room provides an opportunity for toddlers to learn new words from books, objects, nomenclature cards, and other activities like music and movement. Spoken languages in the environment are English and Thai. Other languages are also introduced through visiting faculty members.
Development of The Senses
Senses are the tools for the intelligence. The more refined the senses are the better information the brain will have in analysing the environment. Through sensory exploration, infants and toddlers develop the ability to discriminate variations in color, form and shape, dimension, texture, temperature, volume, pitch, weight and taste. This ability is further refined in the Children's House and becomes the basis for the future ability to work with abstract concepts. Sensorial activities prepare children for abstract concept of math. They also strengthen the small muscles for holding writing instruments which helps them with their writing skills.
Fundamental Life Skills
Naturally toddlers like to imitate the adults around them, particularly in self care, food preparation and care of the environment. Fundamental Life Skills include everyday tasks that children see parents perform at home. Practical Life activities are shown to the children. They are then free to choose these activities at any time. The process helps build and refine the voluntary control of movement and concentration. The children work repeatedly at their own pace uninterrupted. The feeling of satisfaction and achievement fosters self-worth and self-esteem in the children. Grace and Courtesy, such as greeting, saying good-bye, saying thank you, and sorry, is also introduced to children as part of life skills.
All children are born with the tendency to assess, measure, calculate, and classify their environment. This is called Mathematical mind by Dr. Maria Montessori. Mathematics in children up to three years of age is done unconsciously through the sensory activities. Though, Mathematics is not directly introduced to the child, the sensorial activities in Montessori toddler class provide sensory experience of mathematical relationships. This is the basis for Mathematics in the coming years.
Children are fascinated by the natural world. They are curious about plants and animals, and the features of their immediate environment. Inside and outside their homes or classroom are places that children experience nature informally. Access to an outdoor natural area, like a small garden, is provided for their need to connect with natural world. In later educational contexts,these interests are developed into a formal study of science, geography and history.
Music and arts are like language. They are integrated into a daily life as human expression for children. The ability to move the body as a form of expression is an important aspect of their development. Music and movement also promoting health and physical strength. Through exercise of practical life and sensorial activities, children this age gain better control of their fine motor skill. The quality of their artwork will improve as their fine motor skill develops.