Toddlerhood is a time of astonishing growth. At La Bella Vita Montessori, our Toddler classroom consists of children ages 18 months to three years of age. During the first 3 years of life, your child develops more rapidly than at any other time.
During this phase, your child absorbs large amounts of information from the environment through observation and experiences. These are the years that lay the foundation for later learning—and the stronger the foundation, the more the child will be able to build upon it. In the short span of a year and a half, your child experiences an explosion of language, along with dramatic advancement in fine and gross motor control, problem-solving abilities, independence, and social interaction. The La Bella Vita Montessori Toddler classroom offers an environment and a community keyed to nurturing these skills. The classroom safely supports your child’s drive to do things alone, developing confidence and a sense of competence. La Bella Vita’s toddler program offers a curriculum that emerges from each child’s unique skills and interests. Based on daily observations, Directresses introduce new materials and activities that pique curiosity and stimulate learning. Learning objectives for your child at this age include developing skills such as language, concentration, problem solving, visual discrimination, and physical coordination.
The aims of La Bella Vita Montessori’s toddler program are to assist children as they fulfill the basic human tasks of trust, separation, independence, and self-control. The focus is both on curriculum and materials and on helping the toddler respond to the rapid and conflicting changes of this developmental age.
The carefully planned and meticulously prepared class environment beckons the toddler’s strongest desires to make order out of chaos, to move with intention and coordination, and to communicate with others. The routines of everyday living are the foundation of the La Bella Vita toddler program. Activities promote independence, order, coordination, and concentration, as well as support social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. These learning activities include:
Washing, dressing, toileting, and eating, according to each child’s individual capacity
Care of the Environment
Cleaning, food preparation and food service; plant care and animal care
Large-motor activities (indoors and out)
Walking, climbing, running, jumping, balancing, climbing steps, and more
Reaching, grasping, picking up objects, transferring objects, using tools and utensils, doing art work
Naming objects, describing actions and intentions, discussing pictures, conversation, music, and singing
Developing manners through interactions with peers, teachers, and adult-led small group games
All By Myself!
In a Montessori toddler environment, the child develops feelings of support, security, and self-esteem. Children are guided toward appropriate behaviors through a non-judgmental atmosphere that offers consistency; children come to understand the balance between freedom and limits. Toddlers need to know that they are safe, both physically and emotionally, and that they are loved for whom they are. The comfort and reassurance of caring adults is never far away. Most toddlers quickly adjust to the Montessori environment. Nature assists by offering the child an insatiable curiosity and a boundless enthusiasm for activity. Toddlers literally propel themselves through their busy day! Out of this newfound freedom of movement, there eventually comes a flourishing of concentration on an enticing activity. Despite minor distractions, children focus and engage in hands-on activity, music and song, group time, and participate both in the daily care of their class and in their own personal care. Patience, self-control, and respect of peers emerge as children participate in community life.
Toddlers also learn to use language skills, both verbal and non-verbal, to solve conflicts in social situations. Between the ages of one and three, a toddler will go from speaking two-word phrases all the way to full sentences, using correct grammar. They quickly grow in their ability to carry on extended conversations and request help. Gestures and physical communication remain valid ways of communicating, but they diminish as the child’s phrases and simple sentences are understood. To reduce the typical frustration that toddlers feel when they don’t yet have the skill to share their needs and preferences, it’s important to support your toddler’s early language development, deliberately and methodically exposing your toddler to the specific language that she will need on a daily basis. This aspect of language learning is an important part of your child’s classroom experience. As words become a primary means of communication, we are careful not to attribute an understanding to the toddler that he or she does not yet possess. In the Montessori toddler classroom, a child is exposed to real, rich, precise, and varied vocabulary and grammar. The Directress will get down on the child’s level, look in his eyes, and speak to him clearly, so that he can watch the movements made by her mouth as she speaks. Adults also support toddlers in communicating with each other. A range of books allows children to explore on their own or read aloud with an adult. Children will enjoy carefully chosen songs, and read-aloud books with poetry, real stories and beautiful illustrations. Your toddler will experience less frustration as he learns to express his ideas and feelings in words, and this thoughtful approach to language will also prepare him for reading and writing in the Early Childhood Program.
Confidence Through “Practical Life”
Toddlers love to do real-world, adult tasks “all by myself”! The toddler community offers your toddler real tools and opportunities through the Montessori “practical life” activities. In this right-sized environment, the Montessori practical life exercises allow a child to perform real-world, purposeful tasks that your child can choose and complete independently. A self-care area fosters toilet awareness and independence in maintaining personal hygiene (such as learning how to wipe one’s nose and wash hands independently). A sleeping area with individual mats that allows toddlers to exercise autonomy in preparing for rest and allows them to get up independently once rested. There is also an area for gross motor activities to help children coordinate their movements, and low tables that enable them to help prepare, serve, eat, and clean up their snacks and meals. Your child will become an important contributor to her community, and practice tasks over and over to achieve mastery, building confidence and self-esteem. This gives rise to a naturally self-reinforcing process: the more he tries, the more he succeeds. The more success he feels, the more confident he becomes. The sense of accomplishment that a child feels each time he achieves something new (something that grown-ups do, too!) builds the foundation of self-confidence that he will carry with him throughout his life.
Coordinated Movement & Problem-Solving
In the Montessori toddler community, children have access to increasingly-sophisticated Montessori activities. Each activity is matched to the appropriate moment in an individual child’s development and designed to strengthen the integration between her mind and her hand. These activities support the toddler in learning to understand cause and effect, solve problems, make choices, and pursue goals, as well as giving her plenty of opportunities to practice increasingly coordinated movements. Some activities feed a child’s developing mind through hand-eye coordination; others address his need to move and grow. Your child will engage in gross motor activity, both indoors and out, from singing and dancing with friends, to climbing and riding tricycles on our beautiful playground, to simply experiencing the joy of freedom of movement in the Montessori classroom. In this learning environment, children work independently, observe others, explore freely, and express their curiosity and creativity.
Toilet Independence For Toddlers
One of the several challenges unique to toddlers is toilet learning and this is one of the most important ways a toddler can learn to be independent. Adults become aware of a child’s readiness to entertain this challenge when the child exhibits certain characteristics, but children must make the decision on their own. Our Montessori teachers know how to watch for the signs that a child is ready, and how to motivate him to learn without pressure. As they do, teachers help ease this new routine naturally into the child’s personal care. Children experience independence, self-control, motivation, and confidence in their success. Your child will have access to bathrooms which are just his size, and we’ll share comfortable rhythms and routines that make using the toilet familiar and appealing. Most of all, the mixed-age classroom is an invaluable resource: older children in the class will be setting the example, inspiring interest and a desire to emulate in the younger children. The Montessori approach ensures that great care is taken to keep the experience positive and relaxed.
Socializing with each other through “Grace and Courtesy”
One of the most exciting things about working with toddlers is watching them begin to interact, play, and socialize with their peers. To learn, children imitate the adults around them, establishing patterns of social behavior that will stay with them throughout their lifetimes. Because children move freely in their Montessori classroom, they have lots of opportunities to interact with other children. Our Montessori teachers help children learn positive social interaction through specific lessons in “grace and courtesy.” Rather than constantly correcting your child’s behavior from a negative perspective, children are instead shown what to do in each situation. Courteous interactions are modeled, capitalizing on the toddler’s delight in imitation. Lessons in grace and courtesy help your toddler to navigate his world with confidence and consideration for others.