Three toddlers playing outside at a Montessori toddler program in Phoenix

Announcing Our New Montessori Toddler Program

It’s here: A Montessori toddler program at Montessori Center School! MCS has opened a Montessori toddler program to meet the unique needs of children from 15 months to 3 years old and their families. We’re pleased to have seasoned teachers from Montessori Kingdom of Learning in Peoria, Arizona, a nearby Association Montessori Internationale (AMI)-recognized school that has shuttered its doors and passed their established toddler program into our capable hands.

Ms. Nicole, our lead teacher, and Ms. Jessica her assistant, have been mentored over the past eight years by Ms. Tracy, who is AMI-certified at the infant/toddler level. Ms. Tracy will be guiding our fledgling Montessori toddler program for a minimum of one full year.

Montessori for Toddlers

As MCS has begun welcoming even younger children into an environment prepared especially for them, we’d like to share with our school community what makes a Montessori toddler program so special. It starts with what makes a toddler such a special person. Maria Montessori identified, and neuroscience has confirmed, certain universal characteristics that make the toddler years a critical window of opportunity. Here are three of them:

(1) The Absorbent Mind

Children from birth to six have the unique ability to take in knowledge from the world around them, seemingly without effort. Maria Montessori called this power the absorbent mind. If you have observed in a Montessori preschool, you’ve seen three- to six-year-olds consciously seeking out experiences that feed some inner hunger—say, skip counting to 100 by fives.

In contrast, before about age three, the absorbent mind works unconsciously. Consider the typical three-year-old. Without even trying, this child has absorbed not only the basics of language but the fundamental customs and routines of his or her household and culture.

This unconscious absorbent mind is indiscriminate. In Montessori’s words, it “welcomes everything, puts its hope in everything, accepts poverty equally with wealth, adopts any religion and the prejudices and habits of its countrymen, incarnating all in itself.” That is why Montessori toddler teachers are trained to model respect, gentleness, patience, joy, and all the other qualities we want to cultivate in the next generation.

Toddler sorting shapes at a Montessori toddler program in Phoenix

Beyond the teachers, a Montessori toddler program feeds the unconscious absorbent mind through a prepared environment where children can safely choose age-targeted activities that facilitate their physical, intellectual, and social development.

(2) Maximum Effort

As soon as they are walking, young children are drawn to big challenges: climbing a hill, carrying a heavy basket of laundry. Accomplishing such feats builds self-confidence. Montessori called this drive for independent accomplishment the law of maximum effort.

A Montessori toddler program offers big challenges scaled to small hands and bodies, in a safe and secure space. Indoors, there are stairs for climbing, an easel for painting, bread dough to knead. Children can fill and carry a bucket of water to scrub a table. In the child-accessible kitchen (pre-pandemic), they could slice fruit or wash dishes. Outdoors, the gardens offer plenty of digging, carrying, and other “big work.”

Toddler watering plants as part of Montessori for toddlers

(3) Sensitive Periods

Another discovery that research continues to confirm is Dr. Montessori’s identification of certain phases during which children seem compelled to master specific skills. She called these sensitive periods.

The Montessori toddler environment is thoughtfully prepared with materials and spaces designed just for the sensitive periods of this age. For example, books, songs, sound games, and conversations feed the sensitivity for language. Plenty of space, materials, and equipment—both indoors and out—are devoted to large and fine motor development. The dependable routine and well-organized physical environment support the strong sensitivity for order that develops at this age.

One toddler sensitivity deserves special mention: self-care. From combing their own hair to putting on their own shoes, Montessori toddlers get to practice the incremental skills that build toward independence. Teachers are observant, ready to offer as much or as little help as a child needs to succeed.The process of toilet learning starts as soon as a child shows interest, thanks to a toddler-friendly bathroom just off the classroom. We encourage parents to provide easy-to-manage clothing so children have the maximum chance of success.

A Real Community Just for Toddlers

The Montessori toddler program is designed to be the very young child’s first structured learning experience in the company of peers. It lays the foundation for Montessori preschool and beyond, but it is also a valuable learning experience in its own right.

MCS is thrilled to offer this new Montessori toddler program. We are currently enrolling new students. Please email rosanne@azmontessori.com for information about enrollment.

Children doing Montessori work at a Montessori toddler program

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