A lot of Montessori Primary classrooms, which traditionally have children in the 2 1/2 or 3 years of age up to age 6, are admitting toddlers as young as 20 months of age.
Here are some tips from classroom teachers who have successfully completed the integration:
1. Create a separate toddler area because toddlers cannot handle having shelves full of tantalizing objects that they cannot yet use. A physical space, even if it is only demarcated by sets of low shelves, provides a contained area in which toddlers can have control of their own material and space. Try to use the corner of a room so that you have the benefit of two walls, one of which should have a window. Whether you are in a classroom or in your own home, create a toddler-safe area in which your toddler can touch and use all of the objects in the area. An entire room is best.
2. Put only a few items on the shelves per child at one time.
3. Use smaller floor mats that are easier to roll and unroll. If your Primary class mats are on the large and floppy side, stiffer smaller mats are a great benefit because toddlers can use them more effectively.
4. If you are trying to use Primary class equipment in the toddler area, pare down the sets before introducing them. For example, take only five Sandpaper letters for the introductory set or use only the first box of Spindle Boxes.
5. Supplement the area with DIY material for color matching, size grading, and sorting. Use material that is larger and easier to handle than traditional Primary class material. For example, create three boxes for red, blue, and yellow. Put five objects with those colors into the boxes, let children mix, match, and sort.
6. Start the day with a quiet active group activity like walking on the line, singing a song that involves clapping, or reading an interactive story. This helps children to focus themselves and adjust to indoor behavior naturally.
For those of you at home, your toddler's bedroom and the bathroom should be completely safe and set up for independent use with toddler-sized material and equipment.
Learn more in our Montessori album for Infants and Toddlers.
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