When you think of the term “self-esteem,” what age group comes to mind? For most, the answer isn’t toddlers.
However, the toddler age group is a critical stage. It’s when children begin desiring healthy independence from adults, and having self-esteem is a huge part of successfully developing that sense of autonomy.
Montessori toddler programs can contribute to a toddler’s need for self-determination and help them learn to confidently navigate the world. Learn five key ways they accomplish those aims in this guide.
1. Adjusting Your Voice
It’s important for parents to realize that everything in the Montessori toddler program environment is purposeful — including your voice. Parents and teachers can show respect for every toddler’s competence when they step away from the baby talk.
Instead, speak to each child using a normal voice and adult language. Not only does doing so help develop their language and communication skills, but it also helps toddlers grow to be the independent individuals you desire to see them become.
2. Using Language-Rich Materials
A Montessori toddler program environment should also have language-rich materials throughout the space to encourage independent language learning. Placing a book or reading corner in your Montessori classroom is a great way to ensure toddlers have access to picture books and other reading materials.
To keep clutter to a minimum, you can feature a limited number of books with high-quality illustrations and language that is grounded in reality. This helps them spend their time making meaning of pictures, building vocabulary, and connecting what they see to their personal experiences.
3. Making Furniture Accessible
Toddlers are at a critical age where they are learning to move about the world on their own. Part of gaining self-esteem is having freedom and choice in that regard. A Montessori toddler program can facilitate this by providing child-sized furniture and soft surfaces so that the environment is safe, accessible, and authentic for toddlers.
It’s also a good idea to have toileting and hand-washing items freely accessible. This boosts self-esteem and allows for self-care. It also teaches toddlers that they can learn to take care of their personal needs with minimal adult assistance, which will be important as they transition into primary education.
4. Giving Choices During Nap Time
In many traditional toddler programs, designated nap times mean that children have set schedules for laying down and rising from their naps. While this is well-intentioned, it allows little room for self-regulation, which can hinder the development of a toddler’s self-esteem.
In a Montessori toddler program, toddlers should have the freedom to wake and rise from naps whenever they choose. This approach encourages them to develop empathy for those who are still sleeping. Toddlers can quickly become competent in respecting their peers and maintaining an environment that allows them to rest, even while others may be learning.
5. Choosing the Right Materials
It’s important for toddlers to develop self-esteem and confidence in their ability to move through and make sense of the world. To help them along this journey, you must choose toys and materials with that goal in mind.
Things like spoons, bowls, and pitchers are real-world items they will encounter regularly and help with mastering movement control. Additionally, sensorial materials like the Pink Tower and cylinder block sets help children in Montessori toddler programs understand size, dimension, sorting, and differentiation.
In Montessori, Every Life Stage Matters
It’s important for parents and teachers alike to realize that child development and education begin from the very first time a child opens their eyes. The toddler stage is especially important in a child’s life because it brings an innate desire to explore and gain independence.
If you’re looking for a program that helps your child explore and become independent, Montessori West is here to help. Our programs support your child’s confidence development and encourage them to follow their curiosity. Contact us today to learn more about our toddler program and how we can help your child develop self-esteem and a lifetime love of learning.