A fascinating world awaits a young child in the Toddler classrooms of Irvine Montessori School. The tables and chairs are child-sized, and the materials are all within easy reach of young bodies and laid out in an organized, inviting arrangement. Flowers, shells, fossils, pebbles, and other specimens from the natural world are abundantly available to study and explore. There are easels on which to draw, child-sized kitchen implements for preparing snacks, and reading corners with armchairs and a tantalizing array of picture books. There are activities to help a child practice buttoning, zipping, snapping, tying shoelaces, and other skills needed for dressing, and activities to help the child develop fine-motor skills needed for writing.
Children in the Preschool Program can stretch out on mats as they use beads and rods for expressing quantities, sandpaper letters for exploring the alphabet, blocks, color cards, bells, and other materials for stimulating their senses and investigating sequences and patterns. Children learn to choose their activities appropriately, and they become absorbed in their work. While many activities take place simultaneously in the classrooms, the atmosphere is tranquil as the children find deep satisfaction in successfully completing their work. The child learns independence, self-motivation, and self-discipline, providing a strong foundation for the Elementary years. As the child moves through our transitional program, the lessons become more abstract and collaborative, and rely more heavily on problem solving, books, discussion, and critical thinking. Still, manipulative materials are used for mathematics, children continue to explore the natural world in science, the classrooms offer an array of activities for a child to choose and explore, and children are encouraged to pursue their individual passions and deepen their knowledge about their individual interests. The Montessori materials and activities resonate throughout our school program and beyond, supporting the school’s mission of an “Education for Life.”