Young Children's Community
Washington Montessori School
New Preston, Connecticut
Explore the enriching and play-based learning experiences offered in our Young Children’s Community (YCC) program.
A warm and nurturing environment for students 18 months to three years, our Young Children’s Community is a two-year program intentionally organized to support the evolving needs of growing toddlers. Children this age are keen observers and eager explorers who are on a quest for independence, but also seek a sense of community beyond the nuclear family. Our YCC program supports children’s drive to do things independently, fostering self-confidence and a sense of competence. YCC students learn and practice conflict resolution, empathy and care for themselves and others.
As with all classrooms in WMS, the Young Children’s Classroom is a prepared environment that offers freedom through structure and order. The entire classroom is outfitted with toddler-sized furniture and work. Its shelves, chairs and countertops are appropriate for toddlers to use independently, which allows children to independently care for their personal needs and, in turn, cultivates their sense of achievement and a motivation to take on greater and greater responsibilities.
Dr. Montessori declared that education from birth to 6 was the most important in a child’s life. “Children taking in knowledge now retain it for the rest of their life,” she asserted in her book The Absorbent Mind. She describes the importance and power of a child’s subconscious memory. “The impressions made there,” she explained, “remain engraved as characteristics of the individual.”
The Absorbent Mind
Fundamental to our early childhood programs is Dr. Montessori’s concept of the Absorbent Mind, the term she gave for the first six years of life. During this period of intense mental activity, children indiscriminately soak up and synthesize vast amounts of information from their world. The most obvious example is the way babies effortlessly master their native languages. Dr. Montessori further classified this stage of development into the Unconscious Absorbent Mind from birth to 3 and the Conscious Absorbent Mind from 3 to 6.
Students in our YCC program are progressing through the Unconscious Absorbent Mind stage, learning “everything without knowing [they are] learning it” through impressions and interactions from the environment. Freedom and the environment are essential for the child’s development during this stage as they are building all the skills needed for independence.
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Young Children's Community Program Goals
We offer a safe and loving environment rich in practical life and sensorial experiences.
We support both the intellectual and emotional development of toddlers.
We encourage children to enjoy their independence and find satisfaction in doing things for themselves.
We build a foundation for learning and development.
Young Children's Community School Day
The YCC school day is structured to foster autonomy for our youngest students and to support them as they discover their independence and competency. While there is a general consistency about the daily routine in a YCC classroom, how each day unfolds is largely dictated by the unique rhythm of the classroom community and its individual students.
In order to best suit the needs of our students and their families, YCC enrollment options include a 4-day program on Mondays through Thursdays, a 5-day program and a choice between half days (8:45 to 11:35 a.m.) and full days (8:45 AM—3 PM). A variety of Extended Day options are also available for YCC students.
Regular School Day
Drop-Off at 8:45 AM
The school day begins each morning at 8:45 a.m. with the teacher welcoming each student into the classroom. Students say their goodbyes at the door, enter on their own, and take care of their belongings—from taking off and hanging coats to putting away lunch boxes.
Uninterrupted Work Cycle
Once their things are put away, toddlers enjoy an uninterrupted work cycle during which they are free to explore materials and choose work that interests them. One child may choose to enjoy his snack as soon as he enters the classroom while another may want to explore the shelves for new work. One student might cycle through all of the works on a shelf, while another might enjoy taking care of all of the plants in the classroom.
Often the classroom will come together to prepare or enjoy a snack together, to sing and dance or to listen to a story. YCC classrooms will also spend plenty of time in the outdoor classroom exploring a variety of works.
Morning Dismissal at 11:35 AM
Half-day YCC students are dismissed from their classroom door at 11:35 a.m. following the same procedures as at drop-off — one at a time, with parents knocking on the door announcing their presence to the teacher.
Wednesdays are always half-days for YCC students, but there is an extended day option (WRAP) available for families who wish to have their children stay later.
Lunch & Nap
After half-day dismissal, full-day students enjoy lunch and naps in the classrooms.
Full Day Dismissal at 3 PM
Full-day YCC students are dismissed from their classroom door at 3 p.m. following the same procedures as at drop-off — one at a time, with parents knocking on the door announcing their presence to the teacher.
Extended Day Options
Morning Care 7:45—8:45 AM
Once YCC students have completed their phase-in cycle and are comfortable with their transition to school, they may be enrolled in Morning Care, which is available Mondays through Fridays regularly and on an as-needed basis if there is space.
Wednesday Care 11:35 AM—3 PM
Once YCC students have completed their phase-in cycle, they may be enrolled in Wednesday Care, which is available regularly and on an as-needed basis if there is space.
After Care 3—5 PM
Once YCC students have completed their phase-in cycle, they may be enrolled in Afternoon Care, which is available Mondays through Fridays regularly and on an as-needed basis if there is space.