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Toddler Program

(12 months to 3 years old)

In the special environment prepared for them in our schools, the children themselves found a sentence that expressed their inner need: Help me to do it by myself.
– Maria Montessori

Wilmington Montessori School's Toddler classrooms are designed for exploration and discovery. Montessori materials inspire and awaken curiosity with even the youngest children. Our Toddler program provides educational success through a hands-on, integrated, self-paced curriculum. 

Primary Student with Montessori Materials

Inside the classroom, there is room for large motor skill activity, imaginative play and learning, quiet activity and resting. Outside play areas include ample room to run and climbing equipment. Activities are designed to appeal to the natural curiosity of the child and encourage imaginative play and social interaction. Older children begin their Montessori lessons with practicing sorting, sequencing, matching, counting, pre-reading, pre-writing and practical life skills.

Full- and half-day, three- and five-day, programs are available. 


Practical Life

Toddler Practical Life

In the Practical Life area of a Montessori classroom, children begin to develop independent living skills including intellect, concentration and an orderly way of thinking. Children practice feeding themselves, washing and drying their hands, dressing themselves, using buttons and zippers, arranging flowers, pouring water, wiping up spills and sweeping the floor, among other tasks.

Practical Life exercises also teach children about the way their bodies move and how to refine their coordination. Walking on a tape line, carrying a tray to a work space and moving gracefully around a classmate's work all aid in a child’s physical development.


Social Toddlers with Knobbed Cylinder Montessori Materials

From birth, children’s personalities begin to develop through social relationships and experiences. Children progress through stages of social development, such as learning to separate from their caregivers while developing trust and initiating interactions with their teachers and other children. Toddlers move from focusing only on themselves to seeing themselves as part of a group. They shift from solitary activities to parallel play. As they mature, they ultimately seek more cooperative play opportunities.

Toddler teachers guide children based on what they are capable of doing. Modeling respectful movement through the classroom shows children the importance of respecting another’s work, and the children develop language to express their thoughts and desires in a respectful way.


Toddler Sensorial Work

As the name suggests, Sensorial materials help children refine their senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Children use Sensorial materials - marked by physical qualities such as color, size, shape, form, sound, taste, smell, texture, temperature and weight - to nurture their ability to observe, compare, discriminate, differentiate, reason, decide and problem solve. The Sensorial materials are learned sequentially and displayed on the shelves from left to right, top to bottom, and from simple to increasingly more complex concepts.


toddler math

Toddlers begin preparing for math in the Practical Life and Sensorial areas of the classroom through everyday activities such as sorting, counting and finding patterns. Math, like the other areas of the classroom, is set up for children to progress sequentially and independently.

Toddler classrooms are filled with hands-on materials that support the child’s growing understanding of mathematical concepts. Children explore number relationships, numerals, and shape names and classification. They hear and participate in rote counting, and slowly, through repeated exercises, develop an understanding of 1-to-1 correspondence and matching quantity to numeral.


Toddler Reading

Everyday experiences, interactions with objects and conversation—including individual and small group discussions, singing, poetry and story reading, creative movement, circle time, dramatic play and cooking activities—expose toddlers to new vocabulary and help them build communication skills.

You will typically find a sound basket with a single sandpaper letter on a toddler classroom language shelf. Objects beginning with that sandpaper letter sound are also in the basket to reinforce the sound and allow for children to engage all their senses around that letter.

Speech and language development go hand in hand with and fine and gross motor skills as toddlers they explore the classroom. As a precursor to writing, students trace sandpaper letters to gain muscle memory of the shape of letters as they learn the sound the letter makes. Children learn to control and strengthen their hands with lessons that naturally promote the pincer grip, which will eventually enable them to hold and control a pencil or other writing utensil.

Cultural Studies

Butterfly Life Cycle

Toddlers develop a familiarity with their own culture and are introduced to the cultures of others through sharing foods, stories, clothing and celebrations. First-hand experiences with living things—people, plants and animals—create impressionable science lessons about the world around them.

Toddlers walk in our woods and fields, using their senses to explore the world through the natural habitats of our beautiful 25-acre campus. Through this exposure to culture and the natural world, children begin to differentiate between living and non-living, and gain respect for all that they encounter in their daily lives.


toddler painting

Aesthetically pleasing environments influence the child’s developing sense of beauty, balance, shape, color and texture. Children are provided a large variety of materials for open exploration as well as space and time for uninterrupted work. Everyday materials include chalk, crayons, markers, paints, paper, collage materials, dough and scissors.

Learning Commons

Toddlers visit the Learning Commons for weekly story time. Children learn appropriate library behavior while sitting in a large group listening to stories read aloud by teachers, older students and other special guests.

As they venture out of their classroom environment, toddlers have the opportunity to see the larger school community. They learn to travel in the hall as a group, use their “walking feet" and "inside voices” and stay together as they go to and from the Learning Commons.

Assessment of Learning

Teachers in the Toddler Program constantly observe children as they work, paying special attention to the child’s developmental abilities and special interests in each area of the classroom.

Teachers use these observations to create an academically appropriate environment that meets the needs of our diverse learners. Teachers also watch for signs of children’s social and emotional development as they interact with other children and begin to take care of themselves.

Coupled with parent input, teacher use the information they gather to set goals that address the developmental and academic needs of our students. Twice per year, families receive detailed progress reports that describe students' abilities. Parent-teacher conferences are also held throughout the year so that learning goals can be re-evaluated and adapted as needed.