Toddler Program (2.5 to 3 years old)
At this stage of development, your child is exerting independence, seeks reinforcement and is absorbed in their own discoveries. Their eyes are bright and their hands like to explore the environment. As they are gaining independence, they still have a strong attachment to their parents, needing the visual security and comfort that they are always close by.
At Serenity Montessori Academy, we acknowledge that beginning school for the first time is difficult for many children but it is also an exciting time for both parent and child. It will be a satisfying experience for your child once they are at peace within their classroom and begin to trust and enjoy their peers and teacher.
We will use the “Phase In “method which allows the child to spend shorter periods of time alone in the classroom without their parent for the first few weeks. During this transition, they may not complete the entire half day session or the full day session but gradually throughout this process more time is added to their schedule where they will be able to stay the entire time at school calmly, secure and engaged.
Our teachers are warm and nurturing and understand that this is a sensitive period in a child’s development. They take time to set up a variety of engaging manipulative, games, puzzles, sand / water and playdough for the first few weeks that will draw the child to become engaged in a morning activity. The teacher will learn what the child’s interests are and chose those manipulatives for the child the following day to ease the drop off transition period. The teacher sits by their side, encouraging them to stay engaged and interprets what the child’s needs are. They are continually invited to choose other activities as other students arrive.
When all members of the class arrive, the teacher will gather the children together and begin “Circle Time” .This is an important initial gathering of friends and teachers that sets a positive tone for the rest of the day. The teacher will begin by shaking hands and saying” Good Morning” to each child and the child is encouraged to do the same. This is followed by a “Good morning “song and seasonal songs using music and movement CD’s. We discuss weather, have story time and social skills are presented in a fun and engaging manner. We will learn more about each child, their family and their feelings during each circle time gathering.
Self-Sufficiency and independence is encouraged from the first day. We highly encourage parents to follow through on such important initial self-sufficiency steps toward independence during morning arrival by allowing the child to carry his/her own lunchbox, hang his/her own coat, and locating her/her cubby. The children are involved in child-directed activities in their “prepared environment”. The manipulatives are specially selected to promote language, fine motor skills, tactile awareness and order. These manipulative are introduced precisely when the child is ready and is conducted on an individual level.
Through introduction, reinforcement, and repetition, each child masters the apparatus at his/her own pace. Children will gradually begin to develop a lengthier attention span and an increased concentration level by working towards mastery with their apparatus of choice. Each practical activity is easily accessible by the child without the assistance of a teacher. All materials are kept in designated color coded sections in order for the child to responsibly put away his/her own work. This is a primary step toward self-sufficiency and independence.
Children’s language develops rapidly at this stage. They have a vocabulary of 50-300 words, they can recognize and identify almost all common objects and pictures, can say their name and age and gender, uses pronouns, follow 2 step directions and most words can be understood by adults.
The Language program at Serenity compliments and inspires these milestones to occur. Children will use Language Builder cards that assist in further development vocabulary by putting objects into categories, functions of objects, comparing and contrasting categories and building lengthier sentences to describe the photo cards. Language manipulative are also prepared on the shelf for children. The teacher will give a lesson during their circle time introducing the use of the manipulative and new vocabulary that accompanies it. Each child has an opportunity to take the “work” and master that skill. Children will also begin to identify emotions through songs, pictures, and role playing. Concepts such as opposites, ‘things that go together”, same/different, and qualitative comparisons are mastered by the end of this developmental stage. We utilize art and music integration to further enhance each concept and allow the child to participate in understanding and mastering the lesson.
The children will be working on Sensorial material to promote “grading” (largest-smallest), (thickest –thinnest), (Tallest to shortest).They will use the Pink Tower for building according to size, Broad Stairs, according to width and Red Rods according to length. We will also introduce numbers, one to one correspondence, shape recognition and attributes and counting. We use art as a medium to work on projects that enhance and reinforce these skills and can take home to practice.
Fine Motor Skills
All Practical Life manipulative prepared by the teacher will supply the necessary tools to increase hand- eye coordination, dexterity, large muscle control and fine motor skills. As dexterity in their fingers and coordination in their arm movements come together, we will move from a fisted grip hold to a tripod grip hold. They will be encouraged to do so when involved in pre-writing skills and lessons. We will practice drawing vertical and horizontal lines and circular strokes with a crayon and gradually move to a pencil.
There is a Monthly newsletter describing monthly concepts and lessons in areas of Language, Math, Practical Life Skills, Science, Cultural studies, Geography and Peace Education. Parents will be informed of any special events, visitors, reminders and holidays during that month. Children in this group will begin weekly lessons in Italian mid-year (January).