Although I currently teach in a Montessori Upper Elementary 9-12 year old classroom and love it, as most people know, my heart will always belong to 3-6. However, what most people don’t know is that right in the middle of my Montessori heart there is a small yet brightly glowing centre and that centre is a well executed Montessori infant toddler programme.
I have been so fortunate to know Bettina from Westside Montessori School for almost as long as Quentin has been earth side but due to COVID last year and us being in Nigeria the year before, this was the first time I’d ever been able to observe in her infant toddler summer programme.
It was worth the wait.
The attention to even the smallest detail is something Westside is known for. From simple puzzles for the youngest child to a beautifully laid out movement area for toddlers on the go, the environment welcomes everyone.
Mischa, the lead Montessori Guide whom I’ve met previously was so welcoming of me being in the space and we chatted about life as we both now have university aged kids, but what I loved most were her interactions with the children. She was kind and patient but also light hearted. Even when a young child stood precariously on top of the slide, which by the way holds the most fondest of memories for me (if you’ve been round for awhile you may remember scenes like this).
Perhaps what is the most amazing aspect of this infant toddler space is that during the school year it is an equally stunning and detailed elementary classroom (did you notice the empty bed cabinet) and so every single elementary material must be carefully packed away into on site storage and the artwork lowered to bring it down to a toddler’s sight line. So much hard work and dedication from the staff and I’m grateful to have been able to see it before I return to my own classroom in the coming weeks.
If you are new to Montessori and wondering what to look for in a school space for your child, the list is simple:
- A clean, bright, well thought out space
- Montessori classroom materials specific to the age group and the ability for each child to proceed through those materials at their own pace (unsure just ask)
- A focus on independence for the child regardless of age
- A Montessori trained Guide that cares deeply for the children in the environment, not only speaking in a manner learned in their Montessori training but also experiences joy right along with the children