chose Montessori because we wanted our toddler to experience independence and
develop confidence. For our daughter that has meant, “I can do it” and “I want
to do it!” — B. Patel, Montessori parent
How do Montessori programs foster
independence in toddlers? From a very young age, children are supported in
learning to do things for themselves, rather than having things done for them.
Montessori teachers give toddlers “just enough help.” In this way, the
environment helps toddlers develop confidence by actually learning how to
do things for themselves.
Being independent lays the
foundation for a strong sense of self and for having healthy relationships
later in life. Toddlers learn to take off and put on their coat and their
shoes. They learn how to wipe the mucus from their nose. They learn how to wash
their hands and how to use the toilet. Toddlers learn how to pour a drink into
a cup, how to carry a tray, how to safely carry a chair. Toddlers also learn
how to clean up a spill, because spills can happen. In this way, toddlers are
free to move around the environment: to get a drink of water whenever they are
thirsty; to move the chair if they want to sit in another spot; to safely carry
their activities from the shelf to the table or floor. Toddlers feel a sense of
connection to the larger community because they contribute to the whole: by
setting up lunch, watering the plants, putting their work away when they have
completed it if they are able, and giving assistance to a friend.
A Montessori toddler program is based
on Dr. Montessori’s ideas and writing, which reflect the importance of meeting
the development needs of toddlers and the importance of creating a prepared
learning environment to meet those specific needs. The head teacher in a
Montessori toddler program has had training in children ages birth to 3 and
holds a Montessori teaching credential for that age group. This training
informs not only the specific design of the environment, it also guides the
adult in the practices and techniques for working with very young children, as
well as the art of observation and the process of ongoing self-reflection.
The adult is seen as a guide, rather
than teacher. She designs and creates a safe environment that supports and
encourages exploration. She chooses beautiful, natural, and engaging materials
that invite curious and joyful learning. She models a calm demeanor with
interactions that foster cooperative social interaction. The adults in the
environment model the acceptance of mistakes as a natural part of learning and
growth without judgment, criticism, or negative facial expressions.
choice, and the real world
The toddlers move about freely in
their Montessori environment in order to develop physical coordination and
support freedom of choice. They may lift heavy objects and carry them from one
place to another. They are free to exercise their muscles as needed, not only
at a specific time for “gym” or “movement”, because within the classroom there
are places to jump, spin, and experiment with balance, such as bars to pull up
on, a small step to climb or a rocking boat. In this way, toddlers are able to
strengthen their core muscles, practice balance, and develop muscle
The Montessori classroom is dedicated
to discovery of the real world rather than opportunities for pretend play. The
Montessori toddler learns to safely use the tools of the hand, for instance – a
fork, spoon, scissors, writing utensils, screwdriver, hammer, and paintbrush.
Rather than play in a make-believe kitchen, the toddlers cut their banana for
snack or peel and slice an egg at lunch. Instead of playing in the dress up
corner, the toddlers engage in learning how to dress themselves, by practicing
with a button or zipper, and by putting on and taking off clothing.
Giving the gift
Traditionally, adults often show their
love by doing things for the
child, such as picking them up and carrying them from one place to another,
putting on their coat, wiping their nose. Adults are efficient and want to get
things done as quickly as possible. For toddlers the goal is not to get it done
quickly, but rather to learn how to do it by themselves. It is the greatest
gift we can give a child, to slow down and patiently give them the time they
need. Whether that means walking slowly, waiting without speaking to allow a
child time to let the words come, or dealing with a little bit of mess because
the child poured their own milk, Montessori teachers show their care for the
child by helping the child to gain independence: modeling and showing how to do
things, patiently breaking tasks down into smaller steps, and giving child-size
tools to enable the child to succeed, to help the child to do it themselves.
One of the hallmarks of the Montessori
program is a schedule that preserves a long, uninterrupted “work” time to
support the development of concentration and to allow spontaneous activity. The
child is not guided or directed, following a predetermined schedule or required
activities. Another hallmark is that the program takes a child-centered view of
children: giving them freedom to explore the space and select their own
activities of individual interest. An array of hands-on materials is available
to attract and engage the toddler. This fosters concentration, develops
problem-solving skills, and encourages intrinsic motivation.
The activities are designed to enable
children to recognize when the task has been completed successfully, rather
than be dependent on the adult for validation or correction. The materials and
activities are beautiful, many made of natural materials, such as wood, and
with as little plastic as possible. Activities and interactions enhance a
spirit of generosity, awe, and wonder, with opportunities to provide meaningful
help to others. The toddler has experiences designed to cultivate a love for
nature, such as planting seeds, collecting pine cones, and sorting sea shells.
classroom setup, as well as the teachers, really allow each child to develop
their own individual skills and talents. Every day, I am amazed at what I see
the children doing – from serving and clearing their own food, to caring for
plants, and even making their own soap. More importantly, they all seem so
happy and fulfilled.” — W. Baldwin, Montessori parent
Language and environment
From the moment of their birth,
babies are absorbing language and developing their receptive language skills.
During the first three years of a child’s life, they literally transform from
an infant who cries to a child who speaks more than 200 words. A Montessori
toddler environment is rich with words and language, with many opportunities to
name objects, parts of the body, animals, foods, plants, colors, instruments,
and tools. Surrounding toddlers with a fertile language environment, without it
being loud or overwhelming, and also providing times of silence and quiet,
encourages their natural tendency to develop receptive and expressive language
We know that infants and toddlers
are easily over-stimulated by sensory input, but the soothing, calming
atmosphere of the Montessori toddler classroom provides a safe haven. It is the
quality of calm in the classroom, combined with enabling the toddlers to do as
much as possible for themselves, that makes Montessori toddlers so content. The
environment is a peaceful, caring, joyful place for learning, connection, and
the development of independence. It seems far removed from the tantrums and
struggles of a time known as the “terrible” twos. In fact, Montessori toddler
teachers love this time of life and are dedicated to making it a truly
remarkable time for the children in their care.
my daughter was first learning to separate from me, she naturally gravitated
toward working with the baby dolls (holding, swaddling, and washing) in a way
that allowed her to be the nurturer. Her teachers encouraged her, which not
only gave her a sense of calm and happiness in her brand-new environment, but
also contributed to her feeling that she had a special job while at school. It
is clear to our family that the Montessori principles are helping our daughter
to flourish and prepare her for independence, self-awareness, and lifelong learning.”— K. Zanot,
K.T. Korngold is the director of the
Montessori Children’s Center, one of the first full-time, year-round Montessori
childcare centers in the United States. The newly opened location in West
Harrison, N.Y. provides Montessori childcare for children from ages 3 months to
6 and has rolling admissions as spaces become available. She is the CEO of the
Center for Montessori Education|NY (CME|NY), a pioneer in Montessori teacher
and administrator education, which offers Infant and Toddler (0-3) and Early
Childhood (3-6) teacher education training and training for Montessori School
Administrators for an American Montessori Society credential.
K.T will be traveling to Hanoi,
Vietnam in November 2019 to offer a course in Montessori Infant and Toddler
MCC is a supportive community, applauding the individual and diverse gifts of children and adults. As a dedicated, authentic Montessori program, we recognize the child as the foundation of peace. To that end, our classrooms are safe and nurturing environments where the child is allowed to explore and discover his or her unique place in the world. Our Montessori teaching enables us to strive to understand the individual needs of each child in our care, including their physical, social, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs, while we create an interdependent community to help propel success and support development.
Our environments are aesthetically designed to invite the child to learn with a full heart, mind, and spirit. We work closely with families to support and nurture the healthy development of children. Our teachers are supported and sustained with ongoing Montessori training and professional development in a warm, familial environment that inspires dedication and personal growth.
As a small business, we contribute to the local economy by using local resources and drawing employees and business support from the surrounding area.
Offering the highest quality in childcare and education services appropriate to the needs of the communities we serve, our program is designed to invite the child to learn with a full heart, mind, and spirit, and to support and nurture the parents and teachers who surround each child on their important journey from infancy to early childhood.
Our logo exemplifies the ideals of our Center. We are, at our heart, a Montessori Center, supporting the children in our care, at each level of their development—infant, toddler, early childhood—as they reach their potential. We aim to assist them as they grow toward independence, confidence, and self-esteem, and to help each develops a lifelong habit of learning, curiosity, and collaboration.
It is the light of their natural intelligence that we look to nurture.
The Montessori Children’s Center was opened in 1991 at the invitation of Maureen Ryan-Carr, the Assistant Administrator of Burke Rehabilitation Hospital. Maureen invited Carole Wolfe Korngold, Director, and Founder of the Center for Montessori Education|NY (CME|NY) to bring Montessori to the grounds of the hospital in the form of Montessori childcare for the employees of the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital and the surrounding White Plains community. Maureen wanted to provide a deeper educational curriculum with the childcare that was present on the Burke campus in order to improve the benefits Burke Rehabilitation Hospital would be providing their employees. In 2018, we moved to a new location at 220 Westchester Avenue, West Harrison and began a new chapter of serving families in the Westchester area.
In addition to directing the Montessori Children’s Center, CME|NY has a teacher education program for Montessori teachers. CME|NY offers Infant and Toddler (birth to 3 years), Early Childhood (ages 2.5 – 6), training for an AMS Teaching credential, as well as as a Credential program for Montessori school heads, principals, and school leaders.
Led by K.T. Korngold, CME|NY serves as a resource for many Montessori schools, providing workshops, consultations, and training to independent, public, and charter schools throughout the United States.
K.T. Korngold has been CEO since 2011. She brings with her a lifetime of dedication to authentic Montessori principles and practices and a long connection with the programs of CME|NY. K.T. was instrumental in the original design of the Montessori Children’s Center. K.T. is a certified AMS CMTE|NY Infant and Toddler specialist and wrote a column for Tomorrow’s Child entitled “Bringing Montessori Home.” K.T. received her AMS CMSM credential in July 2013. As a child, K.T. was part of the model classroom of the first Montessori education program for Head Start teachers in the United States, a training that Carole initiated in Albany, NY in 1967. As CEO of and the Center for Montessori Education|NY, K.T. helps ensure that the symbiotic relationship between adult and child education continues to support the best experiences in Montessori.