About Our Young Children’s Community
The young child is an acute observer with an unstoppable desire to learn, explore, try new skills, and master them through repetition. The Young Children’s Community program, serving children between the ages of 18 months and three years, is designed with the understanding that young children are becoming increasingly capable people able to put budding skills to good use, learning to use their bodies with intention, ready to expand their social realms and make choices for themselves by following their inner guides.
The classroom, which we call the “Casita,” provides an environment where children experience living in a community and participating in activities that support their age-appropriate development.
During the first three years of life, the child is gifted with what Maria Montessori calls, “an unconscious Absorbent Mind” that takes in, like a sponge, everything that is in the environment. Knowing this, the Casita guide takes great care in preparing the surroundings to create an atmosphere of tranquility, order, and beauty.
It is our aim to nurture the whole child serving the mind, body and spirit as we regularly model and guide them through social cues and mores in the daily art of problem solving and gracious and courteous community living. There are so many wonderful and authentic opportunities from them to listen to each other, find their own voice, and be heard. These are some of our most powerful and empowering classroom moments.
Friendships begin to bud with the expansion of the child’s ability to share what he is doing and deliberately interact with others. Learning to become a helpful friend is a primary focus of our Casita community. Our low teacher-to-child ratio ensures that each child will receive the loving support and guidance that is necessary for him/her to truly thrive.
Young Children’s Community Curriculum
The curriculum in the Young Children’s Community falls into three general categories: practical life, language acquisition, and development of coordinated movement. Practical life activities assist the child in his/her quest for independence, and include self-care skills such as dressing, feeding, and toileting. New language is learned through the use of stories, books, songs, picture cards, and conversations with other children and adults. Children develop a wide range of motor control and eye-hand coordination through the use of attractive, well crafted, child proportionally sized materials.
For many children, the Casita is their first school or outside care experience, and because of this we seek to make our environment as similar to the home as possible. The activities the children engage in are things they have seen used in their homes. Food preparation activities pave the way for more practical life work: sweeping, mopping, and washing tables and dishes. All of this happens spontaneously with few cues from the guide as they become aware of the need to clean up and take care of the environment.
Alongside the children’s activities in daily life are opportunities for learning the language spoken around them. During class activities the guide is careful to speak slowly and softly so that the speech is clear for the child. Children can choose from a wide array of language enhancing activities, starting with real things and progressing to realistic objects, and then to picture cards for naming. The children also enjoy singing together, reading books, and reciting short poems.