Age 24 Months
The toddler years are the period of most rapid growth in a child only surpassed by the first twelve months of life and the first three years are crucial to a child’s development. With that in mind, we begin to understand the importance of giving very young children an environment that provides them the greatest opportunity to develop to their fullest potential.
The toddler environment is especially created to meet the social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs of this age group. It is not a watered-down pre-primary classroom but one that parallels it. The ability to move freely within the classroom, choosing activities especially designed to meet a specific developmental need, is an integral part of our educational philosophy. Freedom of movement creates an atmosphere for optimal brain development. Allowing children the opportunities to make appropriate choices, builds confidence and self-esteem. The promotion of independence is of primary importance. We allow and encourage the children to do as much as they are capable.
The classroom is truly “their environment.” The teachers create the environment and then become facilitators to the children as they interact within that environment. Activities in the classroom are arranged on a tray or in a basket and placed on shelves arranged by specific area. These areas are: sensorial (activities that help develop the five senses, because it is through our senses that we absorb all knowledge); practical life (life skills of pouring, scooping, transferring etc.); math and science; language (which includes the reading of books in the library area); and art. Music and gross motor activities, either outside on our own playground or in the gymnasium as weather warrants, are also important elements of the daily schedule.
We believe that order, routine, and consistency are paramount to young toddlers. Providing these essentials creates trust within them towards the world that they are just beginning to discover. Since it is the real world in which they live, children are given activities that will ground them in that real world. For example, as often as possible, children are given child-sized versions of adult tools (i.e. brooms, dustpans) and real pictures of things instead of drawings.
As children acquire the desire to toilet learn, we are most willing to work with parents as their child begins to master this new skill. The move from diapers to underwear is certainly a developmental milestone and one that both parent and child will recognize as a great accomplishment! It certainly helps to remind us that they are growing, developing individuals and won’t be toddlers forever.
The toddler years are wonderful years marked with a child’s growing desire towards independence while still desiring the oneness that was shared with parents during infancy. The environment recognizes and supports toddlers in their development towards adulthood.