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Grace Montessori Basic Trust Program

The aim of the Grace Montessori School Basic Trust program is to assist children as they experience 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.

In a Montessori toddler environment, children develop 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.

During the beginning weeks in a toddler class, children experience a major transition. To ease this transition, we require a “phase-in” period. This requires the parent to spend a specified amount of time in the classroom with the child. The number of days and the amount of time spent in the classroom will vary between children and classrooms.

After a child has experienced the phase-in process, the best way children can feel comfortable at school is if they see that their parents have trust in the new situation. Consistency in the way parents handle the daily transition away from their child also helps support the child's ability to build trust. A tender hug or kiss and confident demeanor as you leave are routines that yelp your child adjust to the “newness” of school. Successfully passing through separation anxiety is one of the major learning experiences for the toddler.

Most toddlers quickly adjust to the Montessori environment. Out of their 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 songs, group time, and they participate both in the daily care of their  class an in their own personal care. Patience, self-control, and respect of peers begin to develop, as children become contributing members of their new community.

Toddlers are learning to use language skills, both verbal and non-verbal to solve conflicts in social situations. Your child is maturing his/her 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. As words become a primary means of communication, we must be careful however; not to attribute an understanding to the toddler that he or she does not yet possess.

Our toddler classes incorporate the traditional Montessori materials. While the classrooms are rich in materials that promote expanding language, this curriculum allows us to share our curriculum with the parents.

Montessori schools put an emphasis on multicultural studies, peace education and conflict resolution. One Montessori element that applies particularly to toddlers is: children need to have their most basic needs met before other important but less basic needs. To explain: a child who is hungry, has to go to the bathroom, whose clothing is uncomfortable, or who feels anxious or unsafe can think about little else. Being in an environment in which he or she feels comfortable, is fed and has been to the bathroom, allows the child to be ready to exercise their natural curiosity and need for learning.

It is important not to rush through snack, lunch, and using the bathroom to get to the "curriculum" because snack, lunch, and the bathroom are a vital part of the curriculum. The more skills the toddler can learn in these areas, the more we have helped him develop his/her independence.

Curriculum Areas:

Practical Life
*Helps ease the transition between home and school by building lots of practical, yet domestic
  skills: pouring, carrying, funneling and washing items.

*Develops fine motor coordination, particularly in the pincher grasp, which will later be used for
  writing. 

*Helps the child organize his environment. It gives the opportunity to make comparisons: longer,
  shorter, broader, narrower, color names, etc.

*Builds the mental framework of organization that will later enable him to understand more
  complex systems like biological kingdoms and systems of government.

*Teaches the child to take items from the shelf and to return them to the right place.

Math
* Learns activities including one to one correspondence (i.e. put one pompom in each hole) and
  greater than/less than/as many as.

* Learns activities with numerals and quantities are available to a child who is interested, but no
  pressure is put on the child to perform academically.

Language area
*Builds vocabulary, matching, and sequencing activities. Learns activities featuring letter recognition
  or letter sounds for interested children

Science area
* Explore items brought into classroom. (nature table)

*Outside activities to explore bugs, plants, nature. (in play yard)

*Magnets, sink and float many activities in the water table

Sensorial
*Activities to build on the five senses.

In a special environment made for the child:
Children 18 months through 3 years are eager to learn about the world outside their family. The Toddler Community is a small class of children guided by a specially trained Montessori teacher and a classroom assistant. Here, for a few hours a day, children participate in activities of practical life - learning how to care for their home-like environment, their friends, and their own physical needs.

Child sized furniture, cleaning tools, and cooking utensils entice toddlers to manipulate and create. By working with real tools and performing real work, children enjoy a sense of competence and self-confidence. Lessons in grace and  courtesy help toddlers develop empathy and consideration for others in age appropriate ways:

*Feeding the classroom pet, watering the plants, mopping a spill, and chopping vegetables for the lunchtime soup are ways
 that toddlers learn that "hands are for helping."

*When children finish an activity, they make it "beautiful for the next person" and put it back where it belongs - lessons in
 cooperation and appreciation absorbed over time.

*The careful order in the classroom and consistent routines provide the organization and security toddlers need to positively
 direct their energies and deepen concentration.

Beautiful models and language cards, as well as the practical work in the community, promote language acquisition and positive social relationships. Parent education nights, parent/teacher conferences, and class journals keep parents well informed of their children's progress.

"Therefore, it is clear that we must not carry the child about, but let him walk, and if his hand wishes to work we must provide
him with things on which he can exercise an intelligent activity.  His own actions are what take the little one along the
road to independence." 
Dr. Maria Montessori



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