Toddler community

Imagine this…

Sarah walks into her class to the sound of classical music and the smell of fresh flowers arranged by friends. She greets her teacher and friends with hugs and kisses as if she hasn’t seen them for months and then goes to the fish tank to feed the fish breakfast. She sprinkles the pre-measured feed into the tank and sits down to watch the food disappear, saying hello to the snails crawling up the tank windows.

She goes to the bathroom and takes her nappy off and uses the small toilet. Then she puts her pants in her drawer, gets her underwear out and puts her indoor shoes on. She washes her hands and brushes her hair using her own brush.

She finds Melinda and asks her if the tomatoes have grown since yesterday. They decide to go and find out. Sarah laughs as the chickens’ cluck ‘good morning’ to her and Melinda reports that Michael found an egg this morning and the teacher is going to boil it for a snack.

They check the vegetable patch, and decide that the tomatoes are OK but the beans need some water. Sarah announces that she’s going to bake bread this morning and asks Melinda if she wants to grate some cheese for it. Melinda agrees and says she’ll tell Thomas to pick some rosemary.

Sarah washes her hands and puts on an apron. She then mixes all of the pre-measured ingredients into the bowl, and asks Melinda and Michael for the cheese and rosemary. Melinda has grated the cheese and Michael has picked the rosemary and then pounded it in a small mortar and pestle. Once it is in a ball she puts the dough on the table and kneads it using all of her strength.

Sarah goes to the chest of drawers and gets a tea towel; she wets it and places the dough back in the bowl, covering it with the tea towel.

Sarah takes her apron off, washes her hands and joins Arthur who is sitting with two other children. He is giving a language lesson. He gets a beetle replica out of the basket and says ‘beetle’ slowly, then asks each child to repeat the word as he hands the beetle around. He continues his lesson with ‘wasp’, ‘snail’, ‘dragonfly’ and ‘grasshopper’.

Thomas comes to tell Sarah her bread has risen and gets the miniature muffin pans out for her. Sarah puts her apron on again and places small balls in the muffin pan for the teacher to put in the oven.

A group forms in the book corner and the teacher is asked to come read a book Arthur has already chosen about trucks. After it has been read twice someone passes the musical instrument basket around and everyone sings.

The teacher takes the bread out of the oven and allows it to cool a little, Sarah is invited to fetch some tongs and put the bread into a basket lined with a doily.

She brings it to the snack table where there is sliced egg, freshly squeezed limejuice, sliced banana and washed grapes. The children sit down and thank everyone who contributed to morning tea. Sarah carries the basket of bread around to each child seated at the table and asks them if they want bread, using tongs to serve them if they want it.

After their snack there is some cleaning up to do. Arthur starts to wash the dishes and Thomas decides he wants to wash some napkins. Sarah decides to do some bead stringing, so she sits opposite Melinda who’s gluing and they chat about colours. After bead stringing Sarah does a painting and as she places it on the drying rack she fills up a bucket with water so that she can wash some spilt paint on the easel and the floor.

Just before her dad comes to get her Sarah and her friends sing and eventually end up dancing to some songs everyone knows.

Would you believe that Sarah is 2 years and 3 months? Her independence, self-esteem and self-awareness have developed because she spends time in an environment that has been specifically designed to meet her needs. Each activity that she participates in has a purpose. Water play occurs while washing dishes, cloths and easels. Dress-up occurs while putting on aprons for different activities. Each child is encouraged to toilet independently and to care for themselves by learning how to dress and undress themselves. Plants and pets such as fish and chickens are there to be fed and cared for.

In Sarah’s dream school the environment is environmentally friendly with as many items as possible being recycled. Food scraps are placed in a compost bin in the class, then emptied into a larger compost outside; eggshells are crushed and placed in plants to add calcium; non-soapy water is saved daily to water plants.

Sarah’s day could be a reality for your child at the Farmhouse Montessori under threes class. It is here that your child will experience a community where there is a strong emphasis on participation. Class activities include caring for the environment (with child-size cleaning equipment such as brooms and mops); gardening with miniature tools and growing produce that can then be prepared to eat. Art, music and dancing encourage self-expression; developmentally appropriate activities enhance fine motor skills and each child gains independence through the ability to choose his work and allowing him or her the freedom to develop at his own inner schedule.

Maria Montessori observed that children teach themselves. The Farmhouse Montessori under 3s class aims to provide children with the ideal environment to become the world’s best little teachers.