Many of our students are fast approaching the age to start preparation for the transition from the Infant Nido Community to the Toddler Community. This is a very important time in their development, as they go from being the leaders in the Infant Room, to being some of the youngest students in a completely new, toddler room. They’ve spent their entire life in the Infant community; this is a big change for them!
Our goal, and the beauty in the Montessori philosophy, is to establish consistency between the child’s home and school environment, especially during this transition. It’s important to try to prepare a Montessori environment at home, including all “things” that a child will need, use, wear and be exposed to within their immediate environments. This approach can make everyday tasks and these ‘transitions’ as your child grows, smoother and easier for children and adults alike.
What Can I do at Home to prepare my Child for their Toddler Transition?
According to the AMI Montessori guidelines for ages 0-3 and setting up the environment, adults can purchase a potty and keep it stored next to the diaper changing area as soon as the infant nursery is set up; thus making the toilet an everyday household fixture that “has always existed” in the child’s reality. In contrast and in most instances, the potty is suddenly purchased and appears in the child’s reality around age 2 whenever the adults decide they are ready to begin the toilet learning process.
From the time a child can sit up independently and securely, they can be invited to sit on a potty during each diaper change. Once the child can walk independently and securely, they can be invited to sit on the potty during each diaper change. Once the child can walk independently and transition from sit to stand, they can be invited to sit on the plumbed toilet. This will assist the child in beginning to internalize where humans eliminate; and introduce a sense of familiarity when the toilet learning process begins (as opposed to suddenly being expected to sit on a toilet once they are already walking and now expected to toilet learn). It is critical that both home and school are ready and prepared. Consistency is key.
- Washing of Hands and Face:
Allow your child the opportunity to wash their hands and face at a sink and/or with a wet cloth following meals, toilet use, returning inside from the outdoors or as needed/desired. A warm cloth, a consistently-delivered pre-wipe warning “I’m going to wipe your face/It’s time to wipe your face:, and very slow, gentle wiping may support your success in this self-care routine that we do daily in the toddler community.
- Items of Dependence:
Certain commercial items and behaviors that are commonly used for providing comfort and ease to infants and toddlers are not implemented within the toddler community. We will never use pacifiers, bottles, sippy cups, toys from home, or stuffed animals; and these items are not permitted within the environment. For children transitioning from the infant program, it is recommended that pacifiers are weaned between ages 3-4 months.
- Clothing for Independence:
All items worn by the children within the toddler community should allow for maximum collaboration and participation of the child when putting on/taking off. Clothing items should also allow for efficiency of the adults to assist your child with the self-care skills of dressing and undressing as needed throughout the day, which can happen multiple times throughout any given day.
If the fastenings on clothing and shoes are minimal, your child will experience quicker, efficient success in learning the essential skills of dressing and undressing, they will experience less frustration, less anxiety around self-care, and will develop a greater sense of self-efficacy (“I did it!/I know I can do this.”). The Montessori philosophy is one that highly encourages the successful development of functional independence in care of self and one which takes care and heed in the development of the child’s psyche and sense of self.
Finally, it is essential that your child’s clothing items have the proper fit, and be seasonally appropriate. If your child’s clothing is too big or too small, it can be a safety hazard and hinder your child’s movement around the classroom, and hinder their success in independently donning and doffing their clothing.
Tabbed diapers, and clothing such as onesies, full sleepers, and rompers should be faded out a month prior to transition; and stretchy-waisted pull ups or training pants should be introduced.
The transition to the toddler community is an exciting time for the child, parents, and teachers alike. Creating consistency throughout the process, and helping your child as best as possible, ensures a smooth and comfortable transition to their new classroom.