The Youngest Children’s Community is a community of children from sixteen months to three years. Within a nurturing environment, a specially trained Montessori guide fosters the development of gross and fine motor skills, independence, and language. A sense of ownership of place and belonging within a community is cultivated through communal and individual activities. These most profound and fundamental early years of life are protected and enhanced according to their characteristics and needs. Montessori calls this the second embryonic period, a time during which the human personality enters a historical and geographical milieu and is immersed in a particular culture. The child’s individual essence differentiates and expresses itself as an emerging social being.
The Prepared Environment
The child of this age is a sensorial explorer facing important developmental issues of separation and attachment, autonomy, and functional independence. A small, close, caring community, led by an adult who is educated and trained to guide them, gives the children the opportunity to follow the sensitive periods of this stage of development and accomplish its developmental milestones. Many areas of activity are needed for the child to satisfy the internal demands of this age.
The environment for toddlers is beautiful and is meticulously prepared to meet the need of the small individual, because, at this age, the child’s absorbent mind functions unconsciously, taking in everything whole, without a filter, and making it an indelible part of the child’s deepest self. The human characteristics of intelligence, memory, will, independence, language, and movement are all rooted in what the unconscious absorbent mind experiences in the environment during this period of life.
Areas of Activity
The environment is organized into areas of activity that support exploration in areas of development, including practical life, the outdoors,, psycho-sensory motor skills, and language.