Toddler Program


“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” ~ Dr. Maria Montessori

The toddler environment of Sun Grove Montessori School is prepared to aid in the natural development of the child.  Toddlerhood is a period of rapid change physically, emotionally, socially, cognitively and neurologically.  Therefore, it is important that the environment for the child be physically safe, cognitively challenging, and emotionally nurturing.  During this time, exposure to the appropriate materials and experiences is critical.  The child is free to explore and manipulate, fully involved in learning projects.  We allow children to do what they are ready and willing to do.  We reinforce their self-initiated activities by paying full attention, while being quietly available, and by appreciating and enjoying what the children actually do.  For example, toddlers who are mastering their toileting skills need free access to changing and toileting areas in order to take control of their bodily functions. In a Montessori environment, the changing and toileting area is on the child’s level where he or she need not ask to go, and other friends may watch and learn.  The toddlers not only appreciate this opportunity, they also make good use of it by learning to use the toilet sooner.

A job chart is being utilized in the classrooms.  The children are assigned tasks such as:  holding the gate, helping with shoes, watering plants, helps with snack, cleaning work, handing out wash cloths, straightening the library books, putting work away, setting up the dish drainer, reporting on the weather, collecting laundry, setting up the cot room, and setting up lunch.  The lunch helper will be in charge of taking out the other friends’ lunches and putting it on their plates.

Parents are invited to observe at any time.  We encourage family involvement in all of our programs at Sun Grove.

Your child’s experience in school should be positive.  Our environment is sanitary, and our friend to caregiver ratio is low (6 toddlers: 1 staff member).  Sun Grove Montessori School is here for you and your child, providing quality care and valuable learning experiences.

The Toddler Environment:
Environments Prepared for Toddlers under Three

Montessori environments for toddlers are prepared to be as homelike as possible.  They are designed to involve small children in a routine of daily activities including quiet times and rest periods. The characteristics of these environments include:

  • continuity of care 
  • an ordered physical environment 
  • consistency of activity 

In environments with these characteristics toddlers build a sense of security, a sense of order and a sense of time. Continuity of care lays the foundation for emotional and social wellbeing. If toddlers interact with the same people day after day, they feel secure, and they have the opportunity to build lasting relationships and social bonds they can depend on.

An ordered physical environment lays the foundation of an ordered mind. If toddlers find things in the same place day after day, they learn to recognize those things and where they belong. In such an environment children grow confident in their ability to know and memorize things, in other words, they become confident in their own intellectual capacity.

Similarly, consistency of activity contributes to children’s security and intellectual confidence. A daily routine develops in toddlers an understanding of the passing of time. If, day after day, toddlers follow the same routines at the same time and the same places, they have further opportunity to discover that they know something when they recognize familiar things and events. If toddlers take part in the same activities, in the same order day after day, they further consolidate their sense of security, order and time.

The Toddler environment is an educational environment prepared for toddlers from approximately 18 months until approximately three years of age. It is a nurturing environment where very young children experience their first structured social community with other children. The focus of the environment is to offer children activity that supports the development of voluntary, controlled movement, spoken language and independence in daily life. 

The toddler environment is organized and directed by a Montessori trained adult who is assisted by other carefully chosen adults.   

Activities in Montessori environments for children under the age of three are related to real life. They provide children with opportunities to develop voluntary, controlled movement, independence in daily life and spoken language.


East Toddler Directress

Rasha Lukes came to Sun Grove Montessori in 1997, having previously worked in a Montessori Toddler program in Miami and having successfully completed her Infant-Toddler training.  Rasha oversees both toddler classrooms and has been proved to be invaluable in several other areas of our school.  She also has two young children who were benefited from an early childhood Montessori experience,   Rasha holds an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Development and her AMS Infant-Toddler credential.

West Toddler Directress

Natalie Martin-Young began her career at Sun Grove Montessori School as a part-time Daycare Assistant while attending high school in 1998.  She began working as an Infant Assistant and eventually moved into the lead position in 2014. Natalie brings invaluable experience into her new lead toddler position. In addition to holding a Florida DCF Early Childhood Staff Credential, Natalie earned her AMS Infant-Toddler Credential in 2014.


Toddler Assistant


Evelyn Almodovar has been working in our Toddler environment since 2001.  Evelyn loves working with toddlers and is inspired by creating art.  She has three adult children and is a proud grandmother of one.


Toddler Assistant

Maria Byrnes joined our Toddler team in 2011.  She is a mother of two and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.


Toddler Assistant

Sandhya Dindiyal worked as a live-in nanny for 3 years before joining our team in 2014. Sandhya also has a niece who attends Sun Grove.