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Young Child Community
The Young Child Community, for children age 18 months through 3 years old, serves as the foundation of a child's education. At this age, a child is constantly absorbing impressions from the environment, at first rather like a camera and then more self-consciously. This child is continuing the process, begun at birth, of developing language, coordination of movement, and independence. At Chesapeake Montessori School, this development is facilitated by the child's active participation and interaction with the environment. The classroom is scaled for children's active involvement. Low shelving holds enticing materials that aid a child's progress toward independence. A teacher and an assistant work with a class of nine to twelve toddlers, usually working with each child individually.
Movement and Knowledge: Many activities in the Young Child Community are connected to the Montessori area called practical life. Children help with food preparation, carry their own trays and sponge up spills, all roles that aid the child's development of movement control, and develop concentration and independence. Many activities foster eye-hand coordination: sewing, manipulating scissors, or gluing papers. Feeling objects in the "fishing bags" develops the ability to identify objects by using only the sense of touch aided by visual memory. Toddlers explore with all their senses and the classroom and outdoor environment provides a wealth of opportunity for sensorial development.
Language: Toddlers are eager to learn the names of things, to know the words that are appropriate to a given situation. They work tirelessly at learning to communicate with those around them, while they increase their vocabularies and the length and complexity of their spoken phrases. Listening to stories or joyfully learning names for various plants and animals or for objects in their environment: these activities help children become more familiar with the richness of their language.