"If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence." - Maria Montessori
With half a school year now behind them, toddlers have settled into their classroom routines and WMS has become a familiar place, even for students who only attend school part-time. While the 2020-21 school year still seems like a long way off, Toddler teachers are already working to help their oldest students prepare to move up to the next level (Primary) and nurturing younger students to become classroom leaders.
Older toddlers naturally begin helping younger students as they assume leadership roles in the classroom.
"We gently guide them to do things for themselves and recognize those accomplishments by encouraging them to help the younger students," said Toddler lead teacher Kirsti Forrest. "Whether it’s flipping coats, serving snack, or demonstrating the work cycle, the older students are the biggest role models for our first-years."
Teachers also help children prepare for what comes next by making elements of their routine more challenging. By mid-year, both first- and second-year toddlers are helping to prepare and serve snack-time food and drink, laying out and putting away their rest mats, and working with materials that involve more steps and pieces.
"Having the confidence to select work that interests them, finding a sense of accomplishment through working with the material, and being familiar with the routine to clean it up and return it to the shelf goes a long way to help them feel comfortable in their new environment," said Toddler lead teacher Lynda Coan.
Toward the end of the school year, children who are moving up in the fall visit the different Primary classrooms in small groups to gain exposure to the Primary environment. Teachers observe which work children gravitate toward and how comfortable they are among older students.
In the year-round classroom led by Toddler teacher Lauren Harris, rising Primary students occasionally attend circle time in vacant Primary classrooms during the summer months to help them become familiar with the new space. These circle times are often longer to help prepare students for the longer circle time they will experience in the Primary Program.