“The person who is developing freely and naturally arrives at a spiritual equilibrium in which he is master of his actions, just as one who has acquired physical poise can move freely.”Maria Montessori
The Montessori toddler classrooms are simpler and slower paced than the Montessori preschool rooms for three to six year olds. Tables and chairs are smaller and the teacher-child ratio is lower. The atmosphere is positive, supportive and non-competitive – and includes a lot of singing and physical movement. The toddler Montessori materials are specifically structured to meet the developmental needs of toddlers and to support their need for purposeful activity. The Montessori toddler classroom focuses on two main areas, language development and acquiring skills for independence and social interactions, supplemented by select, simplified Sensorial materials.
The Montessori preschool classrooms are a “living room” for children. Children choose their work from among the self-correcting materials displayed on open shelves, and they work in specific work areas. Over a period of time, the children develop into a “normalized community,” working with high concentration and few interruptions. Normalization is the process whereby a child moves from being undisciplined to self-disciplined, from disordered to ordered, from distracted to focused, through work in the environment. The process occurs through repeated work with materials that captivate the child’s attention. For some children this inner change may take place quite suddenly, leading to deep concentration. In the Montessori preschool, academic competency is a means to an end, and the manipulatives are viewed as “materials for development.”
Transitional Kindergarten is a kind of bridge between the preschool experience and elementary school. The curriculum is age appropriate and focused on social-emotional development. Creative activities, such as painting, drawing, and papercraft, are emphasized. Students get good experience fostering relationships and navigating conflict between classmates. Academically, TK is more similar to a preschool experience than the typical kindergarten classroom, with less focus on acquiring literacy and numeracy, for example. Students spend plenty of time actively playing, with more of the day spent out on the playground. Story time may use a selection of books balanced between preschool appropriate and kinder appropriate titles.