Maria Montessori’s philosophy is based on the scientific observation of children at various stages of development: infancy, childhood, adolescence and maturity. After developing a curriculum for the 3-6- and 6-12-year olds, Montessori devoted her energies to an understanding of and a preparation for the child from conception to three years of age.

Through careful observation and reflection, Montessori realized that the young 0-3 child has some very special innate abilities which are only present in those early years, but which help children adapt to the world they are born into. These are the Absorbent Mind and the Sensitive Periods, and knowledge of them helps us, as adults, to prepare an environment for your children which facilitate each stage of their development.

Absorbent Mind

The young child, particularly from 0-3, possesses an ability to unconsciously, indiscriminately and effortlessly absorb through his senses all that is his/her environment. This environment includes everything – the venue, the objects within it, and the people inhabiting it, as well as the perceptions and experiences that take place there.

Sensitive Periods

This term refers to a specific time (i.e., 0-3) when the child has a special sensibility or receptiveness for acquiring a particular trait or human characteristic. The Sensitive Periods are like an inner urge which guide the child, drawing him to certain activities in the environment which aid his development. Sensitive Periods for the 0-3 child are for Movement Order, and Language.

The Prepared Environment

In order for the staff to prepare an environment that is ordered, engaging, challenging and fulfilling for each child, they take into consideration the importance of the Absorbent Mind and the Sensitive Periods – giving lots of attention to detail. The trained Montessori teacher uses her strong general knowledge of human development combined with the specific knowledge she gains of each individual child in her care to prepare an environment that meets their changing needs.


Our goal in the Toddler environment is to encourage independence and self-reliance. Yes, a two year old can be independent, and actually, they strive to be. As the older classrooms are set up to encourage free choice with self-correcting apparatuses; so does the Toddler environment. We want to instill in every child an “I can do it” attitude as opposed to one that requires constant adult intervention. Further observation of the classroom will show fun and creative materials that the child has most likely not been exposed to before;they therefore, hold an instant appeal. Unbeknownst to the child, each “job” has a very specific intent. Primarily at this age, we work on fine motor control (for holding pencils later on), increasing concentration span (to successfully complete more challenging work in the preschool classroom) and develop a curiosity and desire for further learning. The cornerstone of Montessori is an environment that promotes grace and courtesy. The teachers in the classroom are role models of behavior. Never will you hear a teacher shout across the classroom, rather she will walk to the child, bend down and talk quietly. This behavior will be seen in the students as well. (Yes, it’s true!) A well prepared environment will be one filled with an assortment of interesting items. The Montessori philosophy dictates that we “follow the child”; children will freely choose what interests them and work intently on those items resulting in a classroom that is calm and respectful. Because the classrooms are very well stocked with materials that are rotated often, there is plenty for every student to do. This alleviates the need to “share” or “wait” for an activity that another child is using. Because the environment is set up to be independent, a teacher can freely give small group lessons in areas such as numbers and sounds while the other teachers in the classroom circulate and help when needed.

Our teachers will guide children in group activities such as circle, story time, music and movement etc. These too are important aspects of development and are incorporated into the Toddlers day.

After their time in this classroom, the children are prepared, willing and able to enter the pre-primary classrooms where the lessons learned will allow them to immediately take on the challenges and opportunities of the next level. They will be welcome and eager learners!

© 2017 Laguna Niguel Montessori Center. All Rights Reserved.
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