When your toddler joins his Montessori toddler class, he enters a beautiful environment, carefully prepared to meet his needs. Materials are arranged on low, open shelves. The high-quality wooden chairs and tables are just his size. Art is hung up at his eye level. Activities are color-coordinated and set out on trays or in baskets, which makes it easy for him to find what he needs. The environment is orderly, everything has its place. This empowers your child to become independent, to do things by himself, and supports his natural need for order.
There are so many enticing activities on the shelves! As soon as your child joins the class, one of our trained Montessori teachers will work with him or her one-on-one. She’ll give him brief demonstrations of the materials, showing him slowly, deliberately how to remove and replace little figures, how to pour beans, use a paintbrush, squeeze an orange. Over time, your child learns a wide range of lessons, each of which he or she practices until mastery.
Then your child is off to the races! During extended, uninterrupted work periods, she can freely choose from all the materials she has been introduced to, and work with them for as long as she needs. Having freedom to explore at length, to explore activities slowly and in depth, to master new skills: this is the luxury of time the Montessori toddler environment offers your child!
At some time during the morning, your child will be invited to join the teacher and a few friends for snack (provided by the school.) This too is a learning opportunity! Children learn how to set the table, how to serve themselves food, pour a drink, and clean up. Early in the year, we keep the routine simple, and teachers assist quite bit. But come back in May or June, and you’ll be just stunned to see how well-mannered and independent these 2- or 2 ½-year-olds are at snack time!
Language development is a key part of our Montessori curriculum. Your child receives vocabulary lessons. He is regularly invited to story time. He sings lots of songs! And, toward the end of the year, we even begin to introduce them to phonemic awareness (an important step in learning to read), by asking them to isolate and repeat back the beginning sounds of words.
Motor skills are also very important for toddlers. That’s why our classrooms include a lot of movement and all kinds of activities that involve working with your hands, from stacking blocks to unlocking things, from gluing to painting, from dancing to walking around the classroom carrying a tray. When repeated every day, these are the activities that will help your child achieve poise and precision of movement!
Toddlers love to and need to explore with all their senses! We encourage them to do that – to play with goo and to touch woodchips, to experiment with shaving cream and to discover themselves in the mirror. As Aristotle said, “There is nothing in the intellect that was not first in the senses.”
Becoming independent is a big emphasis in the Montessori classroom. That’s why you’ll see students work on self-care skills like dressing and hand washing. You’ll see them learn to prepare food (cutting bananas and eggs, for example). They may even help in the garden, planting, harvesting and preparing vegetables!
Of course, outside time and physical activity are a key part of the day. Children may start their day outside, if they arrive early. They then have outside playtime in the morning, and again in the afternoon after nap, if they stay for extended care. When they get outside, choices abound. A variety of high quality play structures and slides beckon, tricycles await …
… running around is fun, as is chasing bubbles, or playing bunny with a teacher!
After outside time, students who stay for the afternoon have lunch together. We emphasize healthy eating: Dr. LePort, our founder, is an obesity surgeon, and he knows how important proper nutrition is. You can bring your child’s lunch from home (no sweets, please), or you can order a hot lunch from CaterTots, from a menu especially adapted to fit with LePort’s healthy eating policy. After lunch, the children turn in for a well-earned nap.
Want to see the toddler program in action? Click here to watch the LePort Montessori toddler program video.