April 9th was a big day at our Age of Montessori office as we hosted more than 20 infant-toddler teachers from the Bozeman area. We had a full agenda of 8 hours of Montana approved professional development for the teachers.
Covering a wide range of topics pertinent to the guides of our youngest children, we featured Nancy McNabb, Head of School at Middle Creek Montessori School in Bozeman and holder of an infant-toddler credential from AMS. She spoke of the Montessori Triad, the union of teacher/guide, child and environment. E.M. Standing, Maria Montessori’s long-time colleague and biographer, called the environment the “new third factor” in education and Nancy delivered a dynamic talk on just how important the environment is to serve the needs of the child.
Toddler-teacher/veteran Sara Silva presented an amazing, packed presentation of art activities for toddlers. From how to present individual paints to a single child, to how to arrange for a group project, Sara had everyone spellbound.
AoM Assistant Director of Training, Randall Klein, laid out the early stages of reading and writing for the teachers. Although toddlers may not be directly ready, it is important to recognize the fundamental steps in language development at each stage and how to nurture them.
We finished up the day with a presentation on the Spiritual Preparation of the Teacher, focusing on the need to put our “stuff” aside when we enter the classroom so that we can be 100% there for children and their needs. Toddlers know only one time and that time is “now.” We shared a powerful statement of Maria Montessori, establishing the core principle for working with young children. Read this carefully as it is astounding in its simplicity!
If we were to establish a principle, it would be that what is necessary is the child’s participation in our lives, for in that period in which he must learn to act, he cannot learn well if he does not see how, just as he could not learn language if he were deaf.
To extend to the child this hospitality, that is, to allow him to participate in our lives, is difficult, but costs nothing; it depends solely on the emotional preparation of the adult.
We had a lovely time with the teachers, sharing ideas and special concerns for this age with questions and answers. There is no silver bullet of “the perfect answer” when you are working with children. Each child is a dynamic bundle of potential, response to the home and school environment as well as temperament, to name just a few qualities… But the more we focus on each age and learn what is “normal” for the stage, the better we are equipped to help constructively and lovingly.
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