Saturday, December 8, 2012

Thoughts for Tots

The holidays are approaching and many of us are trying to come up with gift ideas for our children, grandkids, nieces or nephews. While toys and cute outfits are always fun, I think one of the most valuable gifts someone can offer a tot is a Montessori education.

The following is an article I wrote for the Toddler Programs in Mesa, AZ. Even if you do not a toddler in your life, feel free to forward the info on to someone who could benefit from this story.


Forget about Chicago, the biggest toddlin’ town around is Montessori International School’s Toddler House, 2447 Fairbrook Road and the Toddler Community at 2401 E. Brown Road, both in Mesa,AZ.

Tots from 12 months to three years of age play with puzzles, don plastic coats and paint, sit in a circle and sing, learn Spanish, and interact happily with one another. A visit to either school denotes a surprisingly calm environment. While the occasional unhappy camper may surface, for the most part the school is free of the sound of whining and the smell of disinfectant that permeates the typical preschool classroom. Instead the atmosphere exudes a friendly ease as little ones engage in activities that serve the dual role of combining purpose and pleasure.

It is clear the current Toddler House and Toddler Community students enjoy their day and move with a sense of enjoyable resolve uncharacteristic of most one-year-old boys and girls. The difference is by design and is an integral part of the Montessori philosophy to foster a child’s love of learning.

Simple tasks are divided into life skills “jobs” such as polishing objects or rolling up mats and putting them in their proper place after use. The seemingly simple duties help the tots develop motor skills, as well as self confidence by successfully demonstrating an ability they have seen performed by others at home.

At lunch and snack time, tikes retrieve their own placemat and dishes and set their own spot at the table. Learning manners and showing consideration for others is also an essential part of each day, along with self care such as dressing, brushing their teeth, wiping their faces after eating and of course toilet training.

Infants as young as three months can join the Toddler House. However, current openings are limited to little ones 12 months and older. Parents interested in learning more about enrollment guidelines and openings can call 480-890-1580.

Most of the boys and girls join the Montessori toddler community after they begin to walk with confidence (approximately 16 months.) The youngsters embark on activities where basic motor coordination, independence and language development are fostered and individual personality is respected.

Both toddler programs follow the philosophy and tools developed by Maria Montessori (1870-1952) an Italian physician, educator and humanitarian, whose curriculum emphasizes independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development. Rather than a classroom, the toddler programs offer a nurturing social community where very young children experience their first contact with other children and learn to participate in a cooperative group.

“By teaching toddlers how to take care of themselves and their immediate environment they develop a respect for all things, as well as building their own self confidence,” said Teryn Miller, an AMI certified teacher at the school whose advanced training focuses on teaching infants to three-year-old. “Many parents are unaware of what their children are capable of. However, when toddlers are engaged in structured activities that best allows for their mental, physical and psychological growth, they thrive. Learning becomes a joy and respect becomes a way of life.”

Both toddler programs are equipped with a small child in mind. Tables, chairs, cabinets and even the toilets are scaled to fit a little one’s needs and height. Children are allowed to pursue their interests, but must finish a task before pursuing another. Exploration and creativity is encouraged, but each child is taught the importance of listening, following rules and acting in a respectful manner.

The student/teacher ratio is one of the best in the state – one teacher to every four children. In addition to the Toddler House and the Toddler Community, M.I.S. has a primary school for children three to six years of age at 1230 N. Gilbert Road in Mesa and separate primary and elementary school programs at 2401 E. Brown Road in Mesa.

For more information visit or call 480-890-1580.

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