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Is My Toddler Ready for School?

Gauging Your Child’s Readiness for School based on Increased Independence

Your child is currently in the process of forming the adult that he or she will become.

What a concept! Imagine your child, now at around 18 months, just six to eight short months into the future. Coinciding with language acquisition and increased mobility, a child of two to three years develops a profound sense of self. The child grows aware—aware of herself or himself and increasingly more aware of how she or he functions within the world as a separate individual. Already, you are given glimpses of that amazing adult to come.

Navigating the Steps Toward Your Toddler's Increased Independence

For mom and dad, this growing independence can be a little jarring at times. We want our children to grow-up to be resilient, self-aware, and emotionally intelligent people capable of accomplishing all kinds of things. But, right now, wouldn’t it be easier if your little girl or little boy would let you dress them without protest? Wipe the breakfast cereal off their face without a fervent shaking of the head, “no-o-o-o-o-o-o.” And, the thought of navigating those crowded New York City blocks without a stroller, well, in two words, “no way!”

So, no wonder, the prospect of your child going to school can feel a little daunting. You have become an expert in the sensorimotor stage where your child’s actions are essentially her or his thoughts. But, now, ongoing development is increasingly about your child’s newfound sense of self as an individual. Control over one’s body—mastering walking and then running, for example—may constitute the first steps toward growing-up, but subsequent movement forward is dependent on your child actively choosing the what, when, and how she or he is to interact with the world.

Imagination is a force for the discovery of truth,”
— Dr. Maria Montessori.

A Glimpse at Your Child’s Immediate Future in School

The classroom is a safe place for your child to practice his or her growing sense of autonomy. Through awareness, brought on by discovery and experimentation, your child will grow in confidence and in capabilities. So, imagine, what six to eight short months into the future might look like.

If you were to peek into one of our toddler environments during the morning work cycle you might see your little girl or boy washing a table or putting away materials after an activity. He or she might be intensely focused on a specific effort, such as stringing beads or putting together a puzzle. Or, maybe, your child is part of a small group of children practicing new vocabulary using miniature replicas and cards. And, most likely, you’d see several children, including yours, coming and going from the bathroom, because this is also a significant part of the work towards independence.


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