The Young Children's Community serves the youngest students at The Post Oak School, of ages from fourteen months to three years. A child must be a confident walker to be ready for the Young Children's Community. In this small setting, a dozen children can learn from and help each other, under the careful oversight of a trained teacher and assistant. As in so much of Montessori education, early experiences are carefully shaped to prepare the way for years of growth to come.
A 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, can learn much more than any of them could alone.
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.
Social skills are another area of challenge and growth. Children celebrate classmates' birthdays and other special occasions, learn each others' names and families, care for classroom pets and plants, and develop important skills of empathy and being part of a group.
The Young Children's Community offers an environment rich in opportunities for physical, sensorial, intellectual, and social learning. Children may spend part of the morning learning new words, new skills in physical coordination, and new sights and smells by cutting up fruits or vegetables. The environment, materials, and culture of the classroom are all carefully coordinated to offer children multiple opportunities to grow and mature at a time when both bodies and minds are developing at the swiftest pace in all of life.
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?
When they are ready, in terms of personal independence and social readiness, students move up from the Young Children's Community to the Primary classrooms (ages 3–6).