The Young Children's Community is exactly that: a community where a group of young children, exploring the world together, working in a carefully designed environment with professionals in child development, can learn much more than any of them could alone.
Equally important to the physical environment (the classroom and the materials), is the psychological and social environment we provide for the children. The adults in each community must be the very best models of language, movement, and social relationships.
The multi-age community also allows the children to learn a great deal from one another. The young child who first enters the community benefits from having peer role models in the classroom, while the oldest children have the opportunity to experience being a leader and a helper.
The classroom is a place of respect. Everything is child-sized, from the custom-made tables and chairs to the shelves, vases, plates and utensils, and even toilets. In an environment that offers such appropriately sized challenges, children are expected to take on greater responsibilities for taking care of themselves and others.
Young children have a drive towards independence—"Help me to do it by myself." They gravitate toward activities that develop motor skills: running, carrying, climbing, swinging; or grasping knobs, wielding shovels, handling paintbrushes, and petting animals. Control of their own bodies heralds a control of self, and the ability to dress, eat, and toilet independently.
Children in the Young Children’s Communities are at an age where they are learning to do more and more for themselves. We support their quest towards independence by allowing the child to do all they are capable of. Our environments are laid out to support this desire for autonomy, with child-sized furniture and activities specifically designed for independent practice.
“Children Can Do Much More Than We Expect.”
A young child's brain is growing at a tremendous pace: just look at language development. Within six years, children develop from infancy (from the Latin for, literally, "not speaking") to fluency in their native language(s): few adults can claim such speed and success! Both Dr. Montessori’s observations and modern brain imaging show that the young child's brain is a source of enormous potential and promise, where neuronal pathways in regular use are reinforced and those ignored or neglected are pruned away. Each of those brain connections is a platform for future learning; shouldn't we make sure children have as varied and stimulating an environment as possible, to give scope to all their talents?
Gross Motor Development
Children between the ages of 0 and 3 years old spend much time working on the refinement of movement. In the Young Children’s Community, movement is encouraged and is constant. There is much learning taking place through movement in the development of muscular memory. Many activities are designed to promote movement in the setup and performance of the work.
The activities of practical life are those that are common in daily activities that all human beings do for their own well being and for the care of their environment. Just as the child absorbs the language around him, he also absorbs these activities from the environment around him and at a certain point, the child decides to imitate the adult and reproduce the activity.
The Next Step
When they are ready, in terms of personal independence and social readiness, students move up from the Young Children's Community to the Post Oak Primary program (ages 3 to 6).