Montessori Environment for 2 year olds
Children at the end of this stage are more mobile and are able to walk with stability. If the children are given the freedom to move when they were younger their gross motor development will flourish. Children now will be able to do more things with their hands as they are now free from crawling.
The room has to be child proofed, and also make sure that sharp objects cannot be reached by the child as they now can stand more firmly and have higher reach. Children at this age would love to climb as they try to challenge their gross motor skills. An outdoor environment is therefore beneficial. In this outdoor environment have items that allow them to climb or just allow them to have a run. And parents, let them climb independently; guide them from a short distance. Low swings are also good. Allow the child to be able to climb by himself and even if he falls it will just be a short distance. Do not let trips and falls discourage your child from trying new things, it is part of growing up and learning.
Montessori ‘Toys’ and Materials
At this point children are able to grasp things and their eye hand coordination develops more. Give your child one or two piece wooden puzzles. Do not give them things that are too difficult, give them things that they can accomplish with a bit of trying/effort. Give them as wells rings of different sizes that need to be placed on a rocking base according to size.
Wooden blocks are always good. At first they will just enjoy watching you build them and knocking them down. It will be a bit later that they will be stacking them up higher and higher. The blocks need to be just cubes but other shapes as well to allow for creativity.
Give your child a crayon and paper. Have a small tray in which the child can contain their paper in and a small cup with a big crayon or block crayon for easy handling. This will also make the clean up easier if they draw out of the paper. Have the background of the tray in a dark color so they can see the contrast from the paper. As a progression you can give other mediums such as thick toxic free markers, and colored pencils. Show how to properly grip pens and focus drawing only on paper.
Drop boxes using balls or various shapes as it practices their grasp and intentional release to put things in. Have a dowel with a stable base and have things around the house that are rings, such as bangles and napkin rings for variety.
A child at this stage loves inserting things into things. The best for them would be a real key with a lock that is relevant in a room. Cabinet locks and others. This will also motivate the child to be able to stand up with support/leaning on the cabinet to reach the lock. One will always be surprised at the determination a child will show to be able to get this activity right.
As your child becomes more adept with using their hands give the child a basket or box of things that can be opened and closed. This can be small zip bag, a container with studs, Velcro and snaps. As an added challenge when the child gets older add small screw tops bottles from old discarded plastic bottles/containers.
At this stage children are learning to communicate. They may say their first intentional word at 12 months. We need to encourage this development by constantly talking TO the child not AT the child. We do not just talk to them to tell them what to do but also to tell them about the things around them and how things are going.
Use books, singing, and rhymes to encourage their vocabulary. Talk to them slowly and clearly this allows them to hear each sound that has been made.
To encourage language one should try not to over anticipate their needs. Give the child a reason to communicate, and often the first would be their needs/food. Do not always respond to your child as they point and whine to something they want. Name the item they want before giving it to them then later on they will know what it is called and use the proper word for it. As the child learns that there is name for each object, they may start to point to things and wait for a reply from the adult as to what it is called.
Favorite topics that children will have at this age are animals and the sounds they make, food, body parts, and transportation.
There is also no need for baby talk, name things properly and specifically. It is not just a flower but it is a red rose. The earlier you expose the child to such vocabulary the easier it will be for them to absorb such language that will be evident in the later years.
This is also a good time to teach your children manners, saying “please” and “thank you” when appropriate.
You will also observe that a child’s receptive language, language that they understand, is more than their expressive language. So continue to talk to them and you can already ask them to do things for you at this stage as the child becomes more independent and their movement abilities have increased.
Montessori 3 Period Lesson
Maria Montessori had a method to teach vocabulary to children; she called it The 3 period lesson. This is best done with real objects, for example have 3 types of fruit in season, vegetables, clothing or utensils. Other can be realistic objects (miniatures of animals) that can be found in any toy shop. Have a mat on the floor to lay out he objects on, or sit with the child at their table. One may put these objects on a tray or basket for easy handling.
Fist period is the introduction of the object. Show the object to the child and say” This is a (name of the object)”. Then lay it on the mat or let the child touch and hold it, even smell it if possible, then repeat the name of the object. Repeat the process with the other objects. By allowing the child to feel and smell the object it makes a more concrete memory for them.
Second period is to ask the child to point to the object that you have named. “Can you point to me the (name of the object)?” Then move the object to another place so you know the child remembers the name and not the placement of the object. This period makes the lesson more alive and interesting. You may also ask the child to move the objects to different spots on the mat.
This stage can be extended for under 3’s by asking the children to place the object that you have named ( another way of identifying if they know the name of the object) to a different area of the mat, or removing or putting it in the basket, or handing it to you. You can incorporate vocabulary words for placement such as ‘first’, ‘in front’, ‘behind’, ‘at the back’, etc.
Third period is to ask the child to name the object as you point to it. This is mostly done with older children who can fluently talk.
The number of items may be increased depending on the challenge your child needs.