Montessori Day School Classroom Observation Essay

For the Infant and Toddler Curriculum class, I was assigned the toddler classroom at Montessori Day School to complete my 24 hours of observation. The classroom had ten children with two teachers. The classroom was divided into four sections by two-shelf bookshelves. There were two tables, large carpets, and small white rugs where the students could take their work to complete. Because Montessori Day School is passionate about the Montessori method, the children do not simply wander the classroom and play with toys.

They choose activities that the teachers refer to as “work” to complete. These works help develop the child’s social, emotional, intellectual, and motor skills. The teachers are able to work in groups or provide individualized instruction, so the child can learn at their own pace. The space and furnishings in the toddler classroom were adequate. There is enough indoor space for the children and teachers to move comfortable, and the room is well lit with natural light from the multiple windows.

However, the toddler classroom is not accessible to children and adults with disabilities. To enter the toddler classroom, one must walk up a few stairs. This is the only entrance and exit into the toddler classroom, and with lack of a ramp, adults and children with disabilities are not able to access the classroom. On a positive note, the furniture for routine care and play and room arrangement were fantastic. The classroom contained child-sized tables, chairs, toilets, and sinks with step stools nearby.

The room was set up, so materials with similar use are placed together to make interests areas, and the works are stored on two-shelf bookshelves for easy access by children. The space and furnishings of the classroom are important, because the classroom should be a healthy, safe environment that supports learning and development. Regarding the personal care routines, the classroom does great in the majority of these areas. The teachers do excellent with the greeting and departing of students, meals and snacks, and health practices. Young children show separation anxiety as they become upset when their parents leave them.

So the teachers create a welcoming atmosphere that allows the children to feel comfortable, so when the parents say “goodbye,” the child is prepared for the departure and knows that their parent will back in a few hours. Also, the child can use the caregiver as a secure base, which permits them to explore the classroom environment and return to the caregiver for emotional support if need be. Areas that could be improved are diapering/toileting and safety practices. There is no schedule that has checks of the diaper changes every two hours.

However, all the students except for a handful are only at the school for three hours. Regarding safety practices, there are some areas in the classroom that pose as safety hazards such as open stairwell access and mats that have foot-catching edges. The teachers greatly encourage the children to use and understand language. The teachers help foster early language development when they engage young children in dialogue during daily caregiving and play times, tell stories, sing songs, encourage children to ask questions when they need more information, and reading.

Furthermore, young children learn early literacy skills around sensory-rich experience, and they learn early literacy skills in a similar manner as they acquire language skills. An area that could be improved is the use of books. When I observed at the school, they would read books to the children when they were eating snack. Ways to improve their use of books are allowing the toddler to turn the pages and point to pictures or using the books periodically throughout the day. Concerning activities, the school does a great job fostering fine motor skills.

Instead of “teaching” motor skills, it is important to encourage toddlers to practice fine motor skills that they know how to do. Everyday experiences is one of the best method to foster brain growth and influence fine motor development. Because of this, the school has a myriad of work focused on fine motor skills such as pouring, dumping, using tongs or a spoon to transfer small objects, and threading. One activity that lacks vigor is music and movement. Music is one way to have the children move and experience a variety of ways of using the gross motor skills they possess.

While the toddler classroom does have a CD player with which it plays music for the children to dance, there are not any musical instruments for the children to use to engage with the music. Out of all the major components of the ITERS, the toddler classroom does an outstanding job with interaction. The teachers are vigilant and act to avoid problems before they occur and give encouragement and help to the children when needed. The teachers also explain the children’s actions and feelings to other children and point out positive social interaction among children.

By being sensitive to the children’s emotions, the teachers allow the children to express their feelings and are there to comfort and offer a hug if the child chooses to accept. It is important that the teacher use communication in place of aggression when disciplining the children. The teachers do this by encouraging the children to use their words to solve problems or provide words for children who do not talk. Lastly, the program structure in the toddler classroom is set up in a way that the scheduling is predictable, free play is greatly encouraged, and the children are able to participate in group play activities.

It is beneficial that the schedule is predictable, because repetition enables toddlers to create expectations, feel secure in their routine, and continuously practice emerging skills. Free play is greatly encouraged, because the child is allowed to choose any work that they desire and interact with that work for as long as they want. The teachers support free play by consistency, creating a nurturing environment, uninterrupted play, and freedom. One area that they could improve on is the group play activities.

They do have a circle time in which the children are expected to participate after free play. This transition can be hard, because sometimes the children are in the middle of work and are not ready to finish it. Because circle time is a part of their schedule, possibly giving the children a five and two minute warning, so the children can prepare themselves for circle time. I am grateful to have been placed at Montessori Day School, because I have enjoyed observing how they use the Montessori method in a toddler classroom.

As a toddler teacher in a daycare, it gave me ideas on how I could help make the daycare at which I work better and more developmentally appropriate for 18 months to three years old. If I had to pick one thing that I learned the most about it would be interaction. The teachers never raised their voice the children. Rather, the more frustrated they got, the quieter they spoke. By using communication instead of placing the child in time out, the child was able to use and understand language and improve their social skills as they learn how to appropriately interact with others.