THE TODDLER ENVIRONMENT
"We should not look at newborn infants as small, helpless human beings, but as persons who are small in size with an immense mental capacity, and many physical abilities that cannot be witnessed unless the environment assists in the expression of life." (Maria Montessori)
Casa Montessori School welcomes you and your children to our Toddler community. Our program is designed to meet the special needs and tendencies of children 15 months to 3 years of age. Dr. Maria Montessori realized that once a child stands upright and walks he experiences a "second birth". Having experienced the independence of free movement, the child is able to move into the larger social community. The Toddler experiences a biological necessity to move. The rapidly developing bones, muscles and nerves demand exercise. Gross motor control and large muscle movement are an integral part of the Toddler Program.
Language activities are equally important , as the child from birth to three is in the most sensitive period of language development. Throughout the day, vocabulary enrichment is developed through the use of real objects , language cards, songs, stories and conversations .
Toddlers develop movement and self-help skills through practical life experiences such as food preparation, care of plants, carrying chairs, rolling mats and sponging tables . They are encouraged to dress and undress themselves. Through observation, the children develop an interest in toilet training and are encouraged to use the toilet independently . This is a gradual process, which is handled with great sensitivity.
The environment is divided into several specific areas that are used for movement, eating, an area for cognitive materials, and the bathroom. In each area, materials are provided to foster coordination and control of movement, articulation of language and social interaction. The environment is designed to foster independence, trust, and individual achievement as well as a strong self-esteem. Independence and determination, assets of a strong personality are developed through work carried out with full concentration. This happens through activity which completely absorbs and fulfills the child's urge to explore the world.
Your Child's First Day
To help establish a routine at school, please send the following with your child on the first day:
Toddler Class Arrival
Our work cycle begins at 8:30 am. Please make sure your child is dropped off by that time. Always remember to sign your child in and out each day. A notebook with your child's sign in sheet will be placed every day on the ledge across from the entrance gate. Your child's arrival at school has a psychological importance as a transition between the home and the child's school community. Here are some ways to facilitate this transition:
The children's clothing should not be an obstacle to their enjoyment of the activities at school. Their clothes should allow them to run, climb, and play freely. The children need to be able to handle their clothes independently, particularly in the bathroom . For small children, this is not possible with overalls, jumpsuits , belts, and pants with very tight suspenders or long dresses. Pants with elastic waists or Velcro closures are the easiest type for the children to manage. The best shoes are thin-soled tennis shoes, or slip-on canvas shoes or Crocs. Jellies, flip-flops, and sandals are dangerous and do not allow the children to move with coordination . Please keep this kind of shoe at home. In addition, shoes with laces are not a good choice for this age child and should not be worn.
Please do not be upset by dirty clothes. Dirt and stains are unavoidable for toddlers; neither you nor your child should feel bad about that. Just keep a good supply of everyday clothes for school and save a few nice outfits for special occasions.
The best help you can offer your child is to initiate appropriate clothing choices: "Would you like to wear these blue pants or these white pants?" This is the beginning of forming self-confidence . Sooner or later you will have to let go of your choices in order for your child to develop the sense of who he/she is. We hope that you will find these suggestions helpful!
Children in the Toddler program should bring a small snack to share each day. Some suggested items include: dried fruits such as dates, apricots, papaya, pineapple pieces, wheat/rice crackers, cheese, whole fresh fruit or vegetables Please avoid foods containing artificial colors, sugar, salt and preservatives - no peanut butter, please. The purpose of our snack is to encourage the sense of sharing what each child brought, and the communal experience of socially preparing and sharing a meal with others. Indirectly, it helps the child to separate, (after he/she says good-bye), as they may walk across the room to place what they brought into the snack basket. There, the snack basket serves as a natural "transitional object". Please make sure that Ms. Christine in our office and our toddler assistants are informed of any allergies that your child may have.
Please do not send your child to school if exhibiting any of the following symptoms:
Head Lice Information
Lice are tiny insects that live in the hair and suck blood from the skin. Often lice are spread among children at school or in other group settings. Lice are a common problem in communities and are in no way a reflection of personal hygiene. The eggs of lice, known as nits, look like tiny white grains clinging to the hair. The bites of lice cause itching in the affected areas. For treatment, contact your physician or pharmacist who will recommend a shampoo. Hairbrushes, hats and other clothing should be washed in hot water and dried in a dryer. If your child has lice, please report it to the school. We will carefully check the other children so that we can prevent the problem from spreading further . Following treatment, children must be checked by a staff member, before returning to class to prevent re-infestation.
The Outdoor Environment
Directly outside the toddler classroom is our toddler garden/playground area. In this carefully prepared environment, the children explore many aspects of nature We hope to awaken in each child a lifelong love and respect for our Earth and all its creatures. Maria Montessori taught us to see a spiritual oneness with the child and nature. She states in The Montessori Method, "...man still belongs to nature, and especially when he is a child, he...draws from it the forces necessary to the development of the body and the spirit. We have intimate communications with nature which have an influence,even a material influence, on the growth of the body..."