"Help me to be responsible by myself"


Helping toddlers control their impulses and understand what is expected in many situations can seem like a long process. This process can be more smooth if one keeps in mind the basic needs of the child. Children need to be involved in activities that are purposeful, interesting and challenging. When their environment is set up this way the child becomes increasingly independent.

When setting up a Montessori environment for the children the guide follows these key points:
1. First, the child’s space should foster self-discipline: one where activity is possible, where there is a friendly attitude to make mistakes, where inner motivation is nurtured, and where there are predictable and consistent limits.
2. Second, it is important to give them choices.
3. And third, make time for the child to do these activities at their own pace and respect their work and play.

Adults don’t really enjoy doing the dishes or the laundry but at this stage of life for the toddlers, they absolutely love these things. They see mom and dad doing it and they want to be part of that and help too. Giving them the opportunity to do this helps them understand the routines and ways of the life they are becoming a part of.  This makes them feel secure and happy and because they are more connected to life, they start to become aware of the consequences of the things that they do.  

The activities the child does are centered around two things, taking care of themselves which makes them feel independent and taking care of their environment/home.
Some activities in the classroom can also be done at home:
- Dusting, sweeping, mopping, cleaning windows
- Laundry: sorting, loading/unloading, and folding
- Kitchen: setting the table, loading/unloading dishwasher, washing dishes
- Misc: grocery shopping and feeding pets

It is important to keep in mind that the child does not work as adults do. In fact, the end result may be messier than when they began. This process is far more important to their growth than having clean floors. When weighing out the outcome for the long run it is more important that the child begins to develop this self-discipline when they have the desire to do so than having to convince or bribe them to do so in the future when they are older.

Limits
Setting limits teaches a basic life lesson that we can’t have everything we want. We are all influenced by the way we were raised and we will either accept or reject what we experienced as children. But there is still middle ground between overly permissive and a very strict approach.
At times it may be difficult to set limits because we don’t like to say no or because we want the child to be happy above all else. Unfortunately, if we take that approach they will not learn to accept limits or how to deal with disappointment

A child under three is not a reasoning child and wants what they want. They can’t think about what is safe, appropriate, or even possible, so it up to parents to set and maintain the limits. Give the child choices that as parents you are willing to do or you will be happy with either decision they make (like what they want to eat or what they want to wear).

With time and consistency, the child realizes that there are situations where they will have the opportunity to make a choice and other situations are not negotiable.

 
 
Posted
AuthorBecky Buendia

The Montessori method was a result of Dr. Montessori’s direct observation and experimentation of the child. Dr. Maria Montessori observed the unknown manifestation of the child. Everyone who wanted to follow the methods of Dr. Montessori needed to see every child with the same eyes. Every child goes through the same anthropological growth just as any other child in history has. Maria Montessori observed the inner growth and inner thinking of the child. The goal is to observe how Dr. Montessori observed in her doctoral perspective. The inner growth and thinking of the child will not be seen if there is not a prepared environment in which he/she can show who he/she really is. .

 
 
Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment.
— Maria Montessori

The child, without a prepared environment to walk, talk, and run, will not learn how to do walk, talk, and run. There is a sequential process in which the child can learn how to use his legs but the child must be prepared to use his legs. We must be open to change ourselves, as adults, from within to the the inner manifestations of the child. If we do not have peace within ourselves, how can we expect to have peace within our environment? In our environment we want happy and healthy children to be willing and wanting to help others—we create a sense of normalization in the environment. Interest is the first step to motivating the child to choose a work and help others around him. Direct observation of the child is necessary because it gives a clear perspective and sense of realization of what is happening with the child and within him. It is one thing to hear what your child is doing in class (i.e. coloring, setting up the lunch table, watering the garden, etc.) than to see in front of you with your own eyes and hopefully you have began to see these actions at home!

Though every child goes through the same anthropological growth, it is our job to observe where each child is, developmentally, and where in that stage of the child's growth to meet his/her needs. 

Observing at Home

Montessori teaches us, the adults, the child is capable of absorbing all he sees and begins to practice on his own. It is his own desire from within to take care of himself. 

Adults are quick to catch every fall or mistake that a child can make but we grew up learning from our mistakes so why not let children learn sooner rather than later? At home, You can observe what your child is capable and what he/she is interested in. If they eagerly show they want to help with laundry but the laundry basket is too big, get a small one from their own clothes that way they can bring this one to the laundry room on their own. If the laundry falls onto the floor, make them aware of what has happened and what we will do next! If there is a possible solution, find a way to make it happen and ensure your child's confidence and independence!

Posted
AuthorRebeca Flores

At this age the toddlers are at a stage we call a “sensitive period” for language. This means that their minds are rapidly absorbing and seeking language. Through much study, Maria Montessori came to learn that this sensitive period lasts from birth up until age six. This helps explain why it is much easier for a child to learn multiple languages than it is for an adult; the sensitive period for learning new languages has ended for the adult. 

Having this knowledge the Montessori toddler classroom is set up with a fourth of the materials and lessons just for language alone! First, there are tangible materials for the child to work with. There are real items the child can interact with and have lessons with such as real fruits, vegetable, tools, plants, and more. Then there are other materials that are replicas for of objects that the child cannot interact within the classroom such as wildlife animals, transportation vehicles, large home appliances and much more. 
The other aspect of the language materials are the language cards. These are pictures of items for the child to see and learn the names. There is a variety of these as well. Some activities are set up to have the tangible materials matching with the exact picture card and others with similar pictures so the child learns there are different varieties of an item. On the language shelf, they also have other language cards of pictures of items that cannot be tangible at all, like ‘parts of a city’ or images of careers. These are great for the young child to be exposed to and begin to learn more about parts of their world!
We make a great effort in taking advantage of this period of their lives to give as much vocabulary as possible. Often the toddlers go on nature walks around the campus and we name parts of the outdoor environment teaching names of plants, vegetables in the garden, parts of a tree, just to name a few. Throughout the day they have many ‘grace and courtesy’ lessons where we help them find and use the appropriate words to express their needs and wants, like how to communicate with a friend in class when they would like to share or work alone. 
 

 
 

One of the children’s favorite language activities in the class is music, poems, and books! Although they very much enjoy and take pride in working independently in the class they also enjoy having some group time. The books we read to the children are available to them all day on their bookshelf. After we read to them we often find them in the book corner “reading” the book to themselves, they repeat everything they remember about each page! For music and poems, we have the words printed on a card with a single image to help them remember. During the work period, they are welcome to use the cards. It's beautiful to see how they can remember the lyrics so well and help one another sing and recite poems. 

Most of the language activities are presented in a three-period lesson. The first period is Naming, teaching the child the name of the item (“This is a tulip”). The second period is Recognizing the item (“Show me the tulip”). And lastly is Remembering, we ask “What is this?”. The three-period lesson is given to the child with multiple items at a time, not just a single one. It is amazing to see their little minds absorbing so much knowledge! 
 

Posted
AuthorBecky Buendia

When we think about the child and the exercises of care of the person, we have to take into consideration what it is that the child needs to accomplish to be able to care for himself. Here in the Toddler Environment we give him/her the necessary items to allow them to do it themselves. 

We set out towels to clean up after themselves, plates to serve themselves snack when available, Washing their hands at a sink low enough for each child to reach.

We believe that children are like puppets. We wash them and feed them as if they were dolls. We never stop to think that a child who does not act does not know how to act, but he should act, and Nature has given him all the needs for learning how to act.
— Maria Montessori. Discovery of the child, pg. 57

How do you incorporate Care of the Person in your home?

We have to consider that the child can do things for himself. He needs to be invited by the adult into active participation in his own care. The adult needs to prepare the environment in such a way that the child can be successful.

At this stage, the child is very interested in his body and he is fascinated of all the activities that the adult has been doing for him like brushing their hair, washing them, changing their clothes; they can start doing these things. We must observe to see what the child is capable of.

Setting up an area for your child at home is easier than one imagines.

-A simple shelf in a low cabinet in the kitchen for them to take a plate out when dinner is ready. 

-A couple of towels within their reach for them to take one and clean up if there is a spill.

We must acknowledge the growth of our children and acknowledge their full potential for future success! 

 

 
 
Posted
AuthorRebeca Flores

During this stage of life toddlers are observing everything around them, and everything parents are doing at home. The children are eager to try to do the same daily tasks that mom and dad do throughout the day. Maria Montessori quickly observed this as well and began to teach children daily tasks that we call ‘practical life activities’. These activities in the class are some of the most essential pieces of Montessori education. This area helps with independence, order, coordination and concentration.

Food prep is a wonderful practical life activity that teaches children many different aspects. In the toddler class, there are a few food preparation activities out on the shelf each day. Food prep helps with self-care, as the child must wash their hands before beginning the activity. In the first few exposures to a food prep lesson, the child will do the activity with the teacher as they will learn the proper steps to getting the food ready. As the teacher sits near the child working, she encourages independence allowing the child to continue to do the activity on their own. With activities such as cutting, peeling, picking, and pouring, the toddler continues to develop their fine motor skills as they do the preparations. Grace and Courtesy is tied in as they learn that the food is prepared for all their classmates. The toddler has the opportunity to serve the food to their classmates during snack or lunch time.   

Do not tell them how to do it. Show them how to do it and do not say a word. If you tell them, they will watch your lips move. If you show them, they will want to do it themselves
— Maria Montessori

During snack time in the class the child serves their food on their plate, pours water into their drinking cup, then places it on a tray, followed by walking over to their snack table to finally eat it. As they serve the food, they learn to use tongs by opening and closing it, practicing their motor skills. They also learn how to properly measure the appropriate amount of water to pour into their cups. Then as they walk over to the table they learn how to balance these items on a tray as they are on the go. There are only two chairs on the snack table which gives the toddler the opportunity to learn to be patient and to take turns.  

Lunchtime is also a great time for the toddlers to learn Grace and Courtesy. Each day the children set the table for their friends and classmates. They follow the order of setting out places mats, plates, utensils, napkins, and each lunch box in their chair. After they have set their food out on their plates they learn it is polite to wait to eat until all their classmates are seated. As they eat lunch they practice the use of utensils and napkins. They also learn table manners like chewing with their mouths closed, speaking after swallowing their food and asking to be excused when going to the bathroom or cleaning up after their meal.  
 

 
 
Posted
AuthorBecky Buendia

The basic principles of the Montessori Method centers on “following the child”. The child’s curiosity directs them in different ways. They have an inner impulse asking for new experiences, discoveries, and knowledge. Maria Montessori learned that children have an interest in manipulating materials with their hands. She came to realize that if you give the child the proper set up and time they will be able to explore and discover and eventually teach themselves. Dr. Montessori observed what she called “sensitive periods”. This is when the child is sensitive or thrives to develop a certain skill like learning to walk, talk, read and write. She developed a range of materials for each area of her curriculum; practical life, sensorial, math, language, and culture.


In the classroom the adults focus on just that - teaching the child what they are interested in! Each child works individually at a table or on a rug. They are free to choose which ever materials and are intrinsically motivated to work on. In order for the adult in the environment to “follow the child” they must observe, analyze, plan for the child, then observe again. It is through observations of the child’s choices that the teacher can distinguish what the child needs to do.  As long as the child is interacting with the materials in the environment and being respectful of the materials and others, the teacher can stand back and observe without interfering. The Montessori Method is “freedom within limits," although the child is free to choose what activities interest them the adult in the class also has to know the child’s capabilities and help prepare them to be able to achieve the activities they are working on.  Following the child gives them the freedom of choice and the ability to be independent!

Follow the child, they will show you what they need to do, what they need to develop in themselves and what area they need to be challenged in. The aim of the children who persevere in their work with an object is certainly not to “learn”; they are drawn to it by the needs of their inner life, which must be recognized and developed by its means.
— Maria Montessori
 
 
Posted
AuthorBecky Buendia

Natural development is attained through successive levels of independence at this age.  Independence means not needing the unnecessary help from another person to do what you need to get done. "Help me do it myself" is the need that comes from within the child.

Independence is a conquest; one must acquire it physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Freedom can be attained with independence with discipline and responsibility. The more the child can explore his environment with confidence, the more he can master developmental tasks and establish new skills which help to support his widening sense of independence. In order to achieve independence, an individual must work towards the fulfillment of his own potential.  A person must be able to realistically judge his own abilities and limitations and become truly free within the community to which he belongs. With the material inside the classroom, there is opportunity with freedom, with limitations, of course. Cooperation with other members of the child’s community (adults and children), respect their need for independence is also very important to develop.

In the ages 0-3 years, the child has an unconscious absorbent mind, whereas 3-6 years-olds have a conscious absorbent mind. During his sensitive periods, the formation of his ego begins at this time as well as the creation of his mental faculties such as memory, order, will, reason, intellectual thought, and mental structure. You may notice the child asks a lot of “what” questions. When answering the child a lot of vocabulary should be used to broaden his horizons to new words. What the child sees is what he believes as imagination does not exist at this age just yet. If is not right in front of him he will not see it in his mind or understand it. 

How can You Help at Home?

To help the development of independence in each child is our job as adults and parents. Trusting that your child can do it by him/herself is key. Take the time to make time for the challenges that can come across like putting on his/her own shoes, pulling up their own pants, putting their own toys away, etc. Be conscious not to "hover" by being patient and pointing out what they did correctly or with intent and purpose rather then what they missed or did wrong.  This is vital to their continued success and motivation. Through our consistency, we help our child be more independent every day.

 
 
Posted
AuthorRebeca Flores

Welcome Butterfly and Hummingbird Families!

We are excited for a new school year. The start of the new school year has gone smooth as our returning students have jumped right into routine and with our brand new students being guided by their older peers! We are happy to see all those who could make it to “Meet the Teacher” night and our first class meeting. We are eager to also meet the rest of our new students as the school year goes on.

This school year will be one of growth and adventures for each of the toddlers. Throughout the year, the children will have the opportunity to be nurtured by their own efforts and experiences as they have the freedom to making discoveries hands on. The peaceful environment is set up to fit the needs of the toddlers, as they are free to choose their own work and explore the environment as they desire.

The first three years of life are the most essential in the development of the child and their potential. During this time is when their language, movement, personality, and trust are developed. The toddler environments meet the needs of the child to instill independence, psychomotor development, and language. During our class meetings this school year parents will be able to get a glimpse of what the toddlers are working on in the class so it can be practiced and reflected at home!

We look forward to continuing great relationships and building new ones with each of the students and their families this year!

 
 
Posted
AuthorBecky Buendia

Children are free to move and explore as they are developmentally ready. The Montessori Toddler environment is specially prepared to accommodate our toddlers who have a fully developed sense of mobility. There is plenty of open floor space with low shelves to encourage independence and exploration. There are plenty of opportunities to rely on themselves rather than relying on the adult.  

On the playground, there are climbing stairs and slides to increase mobility in their legs and arms independently. Children at this age learn these tasks easily and take pride in their ability to do so independently.

The consistency of their daily routine develops these gross motor skills as well as their independence such as:

  • how to choose a work from the shelf
  • how to carry the work to a table
  • how to set up the material on the table
  • how to manipulate the work with her hands
  • how to complete the work
  • how to return the work to the shelf

They perform them over and over with a sense of accomplishment and develop high self-esteem. As demonstrated above, the Montessori child needs to have space in order to move and work. Some children enjoy working on the floor on a mat that clearly defines their space while others prefer to work at a table. Some work lends itself better to tables. Still other work should be done while standing, such as washing dishes or painting. It is through this continual movement that motor skills, both large and small, and their minds develop.

 
 
Posted
AuthorRebeca Flores

Art and music are known as activities of expression! These activities in the classroom can help the child communicate their feelings. Children are given art activities with almost no limits or boundaries; this gives them the opportunity to explore and continue to grow their creativity. 

Through art, the toddler can develop or tune their fine motor skills. We love seeing the children do the art activities in the class. They are focused on the process of what they are doing. As their “inner child” is directing them to develop their self they are concentrated on how they hold the markers, what shapes they choose to glue, how the brush moves with paint on it, and so much more. Unlike the adult, they truly aren’t concentrated on the final product they simply enjoy the act of working and developing their skills. 

The art activities are set up quite simple. For crayons, markers, or paint, they are given the choice to use two or three different colors. For gluing activities, we have a limited amount of shapes set up for them to choose. As you are familiar with the classroom every activity is on a tray or basket, near the tray they have the paper set up for them to choose. For example, if the child chooses to work on painting with waters colors the tray is set up with the materials needed and the sheets of paper are nearby. The child chooses one sheet from a basket of only 2-4 papers. They are free to use as many sheets as they please and when the run out they know where to get more. 

This is something that can easily be implemented at home! Instead of giving your toddler a box of 64 crayons try to minimize the amount so they do not feel overwhelmed and can easily choose between a few colors. This can be done with most art activities, like feathers for a collage could just be a handful instead of the whole bag. This will also limit messes that could get overwhelming for the child to clean up! Please remember that at this age the important part for the child is the process, not the results.   

Toddlers have the natural tendency to dance, wiggle, and make music! Music is just as important as any other topic in the Montessori classroom. The children have access to using musical instruments on a daily basis. There are a variety of instruments that get switched out every couple of weeks. This allows the child to be in contact with many instruments from around the world. Along with the instruments we also teach the children songs with movement. Moving around in the classroom gives the children the opportunity to exercise their gross motor skills and express their unique spirits. 

As the children learn the lyrics to songs this also helps them with the development of their language. It is always a joy to see a child who is happily working on any activity in the class while singing a song they have been learning!
 

 
Posted
AuthorBecky Buendia

This month we had the chance to focus more on caring for our environment. Throughout the classroom there are many activities and materials that the child can collaborate with one another and also work by themselves to take care of our environment; indoor and outdoor. Through this independent work the child can build their self-esteem as well as their self-construction. The prepared environment is what allows our toddlers to take part in these activities. The materials in the environment are set up meticulously throughout the class and are arranged beautifully in the morning before the children arrived and checked throughout the day to reassure the cleanliness and beauty of the classroom set-up. The children are always invited, not forced, to use these materials.

Some Care of the Environment materials are:

-Watering the plants        -Unloading dishwasher

-Sweeping/ mopping       -Wiping a Table

-Dusting                            -Flower Arranging

We want the child’s impact on the prepared environment to be visible to him and to his environment. We refrain from following the child to fix his mistakes. If the child has cleaned up the water from the table but did not clean it completely, we make our best effort to leave it alone and have that child or another child recognize the water and allow them to clean it up.

 
 

Self-construction:

The child does these activities for himself at first. He recognizes the water on the floor, the paint on the table, the dishes are dirty, etc. His maximum effort will give him the ability to concentrate and grow. It brings the child lots of joy to finish these tasks and the adult certainly can recognize his efforts and contribution to the environment.

We must, therefore, quit our roles as jailers and instead take care to prepare an environment in which we do as little as possible to exhaust the child with our surveillance and instruction- Maria Montessori
— The Tao of Montessori: Reflections on Compassionate Teaching

Parents and the Home Environment:

Parents are more than welcome to ask about how they can help their child have a prepared environment at home as well. A variety of child-sized materials can be provided at home such as shovels near the garden, towels/mop at his level to allow them choose what interests them the most. Shelves for their toys are great for keeping their materials in their own place and having them put them away once they have finished using that material. It can be done! Through repetition and consistent guidance, the child will enable himself to help maintain their environment beautiful.

Posted
AuthorRebeca Flores
 
 
The child, merely by going on with his life, learns to speak the language belonging to his race. It is like a mental chemistry that takes place in the child.
— Maria Montessori
Posted
AuthorRebeca Flores

 We give the children the freedom to move around as much as possible in the environment from kicking a soccer ball on the playground to balancing on a balance beam in our outdoor environment. These movements that are practiced are critical to have developed at this age. Within these first three years of their life are what will prepare them for the future. The child becomes so alert with himself with all these movements that he is making. Movement is also a great importance for mental development; it is a means for expressing personality.

As we have talked about the increasing concentration of the children, it requires great concentration for the child to practice these intricate movements of his own body. When the child is concentrated on a work, it takes a great deal of concentration and focus on the movement he needs to make to achieve what is asked of his body; so great patience is required on our part, as adults. 

It is a wonderful experience to watch the children in the environment observe and recognize their body movements. Through the material out for the children to use, they can experience the movement of their fingers such as cutting paper with scissors, the pincer grasp for holding and pulling grapes, and many other materials to get their hands and bodies moving and practicing their inner potential. The practice of these movements are not only heard in their silence but seen in their eyes; the focus and the will to master these movements in the hands and bodies. 

 
It follows that the child can only develop fully by means of experience on his environment. We call such experience ‘work’.
— The Absorbent Mind. Pg. 80
 
Posted
AuthorRebeca Flores

Maria Montessori taught that the most influential stage of concentration is during the “first plane of development”, from birth to three years. It is fascinating to watch the toddlers in the environment become concentrated on such minimal things we adults don’t stop to notice. Recently, a child was working on stringing beads when she realized there was a small spec of glitter on her finger. She put her work down and stared at this little shiny dot. As she touched it with her other hand it stuck and she moved it back and forth. This is something we get to experience daily in the toddler environments. We cherish moments of concentration in the classroom and do our best to not interrupt their newly defined sensorial experiences. 

A child’s concentration in this stage of life is a precious thing. Sometimes as adults we are quick to jump to their assistance. A grunt as they are trying to put on their shoes we instantly want to help or when they spill something on the floor we think it would be quicker if we just cleaned it up. When we are too fast to intervene, we are taking away the opportunity for the child to concentrate and continue to learn independently. 

During this important time, the toddlers begin to develop a sense of self which then leads to self-control. We focus on teaching them how to act purposefully, control their bodies, and follow the accepted rules for behavior.  

Until a child learns to focus their attention, their mind is a fluctuating field of sensory inputs, emotions, random thoughts, desires, impulses, and dreams. Attention is the force that, when brought under the control of will, allows all that activity to organize itself.
— Maria Montessori

The practical life activities are essential building blocks in the toddler classes that help build independence, learn sequential order, practice movements, language and much more. All the activities in the environment assist the children to increase their concentration and focus, some of them become consumed in their work up to twenty minutes at a time!

Maria Montessori said, “The first essential for the child's development is concentration. It lays the whole basis for his character and social behavior. He must find out how to concentrate, and for this he needs things to concentrate upon. This shows the importance of his surroundings, for no one acting on the child from outside can cause him to concentrate”. 

 
 
Posted
AuthorBecky Buendia
 

Our first quarter is over and off to a wonderful start; on to the next! It is so great to see so many personalities in one room growing together. We have continued with our daily routine and have begun to get familiar with one another; new names are being learned and new bonds are being made. So many helping hands in one room!

Grace and Courtesy 

The children's efforts toward exactness and precision are truly beautiful and amazing to see! We are amazed by their concentration and seriousness, combined with their joyful sense of pride as they move toward understanding their world. 
Our new students are doing so well with the routine as they continue to adjust to the classroom. They have all been practicing grace and courtesy as they patiently wait for all their friends to be seated for lunch before eating! We are also very impresses how well they are doing with setting the table, the use of their utensils, and their desire to share the food that they prepare in the class. 
From such a young age they understand that there is, “a place for everything and everything in its place.” All the students that have been in the class from the previous year or the first couple of weeks help our new comers to keep order in the class. 

Care of the Environment

This month we have focused a lot on taking care of our environment. We are serving milk for others for lunch, cleaning water off the floor with a mop & swiffer, folding laundry, watering our plants and many others. Our toddlers are all so eager to lend a hand in taking care of our environment. Learning to take care of the environment gives the opportunity to develop their gross motor movement and equilibrium. It also gives them the chance to relate with nature while taking care of our plants 

As we work through our care of the environment exercises and grace and courtesy, we will continue to develop the independence, their sensitive periods, and movement & equilibrium inside each and every child in the classroom as the year goes on. 

We must clearly understand that when we give the child freedom and independence, we are giving freedom to a worker already braced for action, who cannot live without working and being active.
— The Absorbent Mind, Ch. 8 pg. 91
 
Posted
AuthorRebeca Flores
 
 
 
 
Posted
AuthorBecky Buendia