The Summit is one of a few schools in Greater Cincinnati applying the Montessori philosophy in an educational program for 18-month-olds. Toddlers are introduced to an environment enriched by a community of university-trained Montessori curriculum experts who believe in the unlimited potential of a child's ability to learn. Peaceful toddler classrooms are rich in materials that naturally stimulate explorative learning. During this sensitive developmental stage when the child is absorbing information at an exponential rate, the carefully prepared environment – furniture, learning activities, relationships and routines – helps the child reach his or her fullest potential.

Research into the neurodevelopmental benefits of classical Montessori education suggest that Montessori classrooms, materials and faculty augment cognitive growth from birth to age 6. The Montessori philosophy holds that children develop into their fullest potential if everything in their environment – furniture, learning activities, relationships and routines – are "just right" as the child progresses through a series of specific developmental periods.

18- to 24-month-olds

During this period of development, toddler students in a Montessori classroom begin to develop the foundation of the four main aims of a Montessori classroom – control, independence, concentration and order. These are the building blocks on which all other learning will take place through life. These skills, as supported within the environment, foster the accelerated development of cognition, fine and gross motor movement, social and emotional skills. Guided by an expert using academically stimulating vocabulary in a prepared classroom, experiential learning from sensorial materials promote brain development. While children this age may seem to be babbling, their vocabulary is increasing rapidly and they understand far more than they can articulate. As fine and gross motor skills develop, they learn to squat, climb, jump, run, throw a ball, turn pages in a book, solve shape sorters and hold crayons. Socially and emotionally, they become possessive of objects, want to help with chores and begin dressing themselves. A favorite word is often “mine.” Keeping with Montessori lessons of grace and courtesy, The Summit’s program introduces “please” and “thank you.”

24- to 36-month-olds

Two-year-olds are energetic, speak in short sentences and are understanding concepts of like/don’t like, better/worse, over/under and boys/girls. As they master more language, they begin to express a wide range of emotions and speak with different tones in their voice. They become more interested in other children and love to pretend. They can draw a circle and a straight line. As they approach their next birthday, they become more capable of logical thinking, following more complex directions and are interested in pre-reading processes, counting, matching and sequencing.

The Toddler Program

The Summit’s distinctive Toddler Program addresses the three primary developmental needs for a child under age 3 and provides objects, relationships and an environment which fulfill the toddler's innate inner compulsion to learn:

  • Movement: Children strengthen their gross muscle and coordination skills through planned activities like scrubbing, pouring and balancing. Movement enhances thinking and learning.Toddlers also use specialized play equipment that stimulates fine and gross motor development, are treated to outdoor learning experiences and play on naturescape equipment on the Lower School’s safe and secure rooftop playground.
  • Language: A robust and language-rich environment is vital for toddlers. At one year of age, a child may only have a few words in their vocabulary. By age 3, the child can have a 1,000-2,000 word vocabulary if placed in the right environment. Because 2-year-olds are acute listeners, activities include singing, rhyming, reading stories and naming and labeling of materials.
  • Order: The Montessori environment creates predictability that lets children concentrate and focus on learning. Materials are kept in an orderly manner and activities follow a predictable routine that lets children build self-esteem because they can feel in control of their decisions and take initiative in learning new and challenging skills.

The Summit environment also introduces toddlers to the Orff Schulwerk Music Approach which uses rhythmic speech, songs, instruments, movement and improvisation to help children use their natural instincts to make music through active participation. Research shows that young children can learn language easier at this age than later in life, so toddlers are exposed to World Language. Toddlers also use specialized play equipment that stimulates fine and gross motor development, are treated to outdoor learning experiences and play on naturescape equipment on the Lower School’s safe and secure rooftop playground.