Montessori Prepared Environment
Maria Montessori’s idea of a “prepared environment” is realized in a milieu or setting in which everything a child comes in contact with facilitates and maximizes independent learning and exploration. Classrooms are prepared to meet the individual needs of all children, and to offer opportunities by encouraging them to make everyday choices. A prepared environment gives every child the freedom to fully develop their unique potential through developmentally appropriate sensorial materials. The materials range from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract, catering toward every child’s age and ability.
Key components of a Prepared Environment are:
The child has freedom to move from one cycle of work to the next in a constructive manner. A prepared environment allows the child to move freely and explore, following their natural impulses and work with the materials they choose – only after our Montessori trained teachers present it correctly the first time. In the event the child’s movement is disruptive to the class and/or other children, a redirection of behavior takes place through classroom management techniques.
Structure and Order
Maria Montessori believed there is a sensitive period for order that occurs between the ages of one and three years. During this time, the child is absorbing and structuring an internal world based on external environments. Therefore, it is crucial that an environment is prepared that aids the child in building a sense of structure, order, and self-control. A prepared environment provides structure and order in the classroom, which accurately reflects the sense of structure and order in the universe. This structure provides children the opportunity to work according to their age and ability, thus building concentration and a structure conducive to learning.
A prepared environment is a beautiful, uncluttered and well-maintained setting. The environment has colorful and attractive materials reflecting peace and tranquility. Every material has a place and purpose making the environment attractive. All of these qualities contribute in creativity and order in a child’s mind.
Nature and Reality
Children use child-size real objects that fit their hands and are appropriate for their age. This encourages proper use, makes work manageable, and allows the completion of work without frustration. Our child-size furniture in the classroom is appropriate for their height, so the child is not dependent on the adult for their freedom and movement.
This environment provides freedom to interact, inspiring children to learn and develop a sense of compassion, empathy for others, and respect. They become more socially aware and play in groups at the appropriate times. This social interaction is maintained throughout the environment and is encouraged with multi-age classroom settings. Our multi-age classrooms provide older children to develop leadership qualities while younger children mature at a faster pace due to the influence of their older peers.
Along with forming the child’s character, a prepared environment also develops them academically and intellectually. By guiding the child through the Montessori curriculum (practical life, sensorial, language, mathematics, and cultural subjects), the child has the structure which inspires them to become independent, responsible, and self-motivated learners. It is through the Intellectual Environment that groundwork is laid for a joy of life time learning from an early age.
Montessori teachers are a dynamic link between the environment and the needs of a child. They act as an interpreter for the child by observing, anticipating, and helping to guide the child through work cycles. This format helps the child to gain independence, and become a well-rounded abstract thinker. A Montessori teacher serves as the preparer and communicator of the environment to the child, and is responsible for maintaining the atmosphere and order of the prepared environment.