Hello Toddler Families!
Great to have all of the children back after our spring break! There is a renewed energy in the environment with busy, engaged toddlers choosing work! One of my favorite things to do is to step outside of the environment and look through the window at the children working! I continue to be “wowed” by what these toddlers are capable of and the level of independence and choice that is expressed. One of the unique and most beneficial pieces to a Montessori education is the value of the development that is natural to the child. Even at this young age the child is given the freedom and knowledge to make choices.
Freedom and Limitations
The ultimate freedom a person seeks is that of intellectual freedom. This is a long way off for toddlers, but part of the process in the ability to be free involves making choices. When we offer the toddler the possibility of making choices about his/her work, we are aiding the ability for them to choose – an important part of being independent and free. Along with having freedoms, there needs to be corresponding limits which begin to instill in the toddler the belief that one’s personal freedom ends where it interferes with another’s freedom.
There are four basic freedoms with corresponding limits in the Toddler Community:
There is the freedom to work, with the limit of needing to have some knowledge of the materials involved. This knowledge comes from the Guide giving a presentation, or the child observing a presentation, or even from watching another child do the work. Once the child is familiar with the activity, this is one of their choices!
The freedom to move, with the limit of moving in a way that is conducive to the community in the indoor space. Being aware of others’ space and of moving in a safe way is modeled for the children. The child is not expected to sit in one space, he/she may move around the room freely and choose a place to work. Again, as long as it is in cooperation with the others in the environment.
The freedom to talk and communicate with others, with the limit of using appropriate volume. This is again modeled and encouraged by the adults in the room- showing an appropriate range for indoor and outdoor voices. The children may interact with their friends and talk, sing, work together!
There is a freedom of time. A child can work with a material for as long as wanted, with the limit of appropriate use and the availability of the material. A child can work with a material as long as there is interest! There is the limit of misuse of the material or taking the material from another child. The child learns that if he/she is using a material it is “my work” and is safe from other children taking it. In the same token the child learns that if another child is working with a material it is not available and it may be used when it is put back on the shelf.
As these freedoms and limits become a natural part of our environment we see the child to develop concentration, a sense of schedule, appropriate boundaries and there is a sense of order and calm! This is the normalization that we are witnessing in our Toddler Community – the beautiful flow that I see as I remove myself and peek through the window at the amazing work of the children. They truly are developing the ability to make choices, to enjoy freedom with limits, and to be the happy and satisfied!
With love and appreciation to you all for sharing your amazing toddlers with us!
Amy and Brandi