The opportunity for children to remain in the same classroom for 2 years in the toddler classroom and up to three years in the primary rooms is one of the many benefits of Montessori. There are countless ways this helps the child in his learning… social skills, motivation, and solidification of knowledge…just to a name a few.
We, as teachers, get to enjoy multiple years with the child as well. We get to watch the transformation of a young 15 month old to a child ready to transition into the primary room as well as a new 3 year old into a confident and independent 5 year old. One of the basic and possibly most important goals in any of the Montessori classrooms is the development of independence. This spans independence in taking care of one’s own needs as well as one’s own learning. The toddler classes begin to foster the children’s independence by helping and encouraging them with tasks they can accomplish on their own. In the primary rooms, we take that independence and push it to the next step, challenging the children to be even more self-sufficient.
As I watched the children getting their jackets on last week, I was amazed again by the Montessori classroom and the transformation over the years. The toddler classes begin with the difficult by necessary task of creating independence in putting on one’s jacket. The “Montessori flip” is introduced to the youngest of children so they may complete this task on their own.
I was sitting on the floor, calling the children from circle to go to their cubby, retrieve their jacket, bring it to the carpet, put it on, then line up (the process of doing all of those directions is an accomplishment in and of itself.) As all of this was happening, I was surrounded by children in various stages of these directions. The younger children brought their jackets close to me for assistance. I took the time to show them how to pull their sleeves out of their jackets if they are inside-out…holding the jacket for them as they pulled the sleeve out.
Most of the first year children need a little help with this task. Then I laid their jacket on the floor for the “Montessori flip” that was learned in the toddler classes. And lastly we helped with the zipper.
As I sat there, I noticed the second and third year children doing all of those tasks completely on their own. They brought their jackets to the carpet, mostly on the other side of the circle from me. Held their own jackets as they righted the sleeves, some put them on the floor to do the flip; others just put the jacket on. A little help was needed to start the zipper occasionally.
I selfishly enjoyed this moment of Montessori greatness! These older children were the ones that I was helping with all of these tasks last year and now they are on their own. Your children are all benefiting from their beginnings in the toddler program that flows seamlessly into the primary program.
“The greatest success of a teacher is for the children to act as if she doesn’t exist.”