Montessori classrooms are known for their wide-open design, unique materials, glorious lighting, and sense of order. The construct is intentional. Baked into the Montessori Method of education is the idea of presenting children with a “prepared environment.” Each classroom is minutely designed for the age grouping to maximize safety and appeal as well as encourage exploration and independent learning.
Check out the advantages of a prepared environment in the classroom.
The Right Room
Montessori classrooms have lots of open space. This allows students to have plenty of room to play with the educational toys of their choice in their own space, as well as to join in group activities such as games, singing, or storytelling.
The Right Fit
The furniture in a Montessori classroom is child-sized. There’s no grappling up adult-size chairs, or reaching for shelves that are too high. Everything that they need is clearly visible and is easy-to-reach, including the hooks for their coats, the cubbies for their backpacks, and the sinks where they wash their hands. Students can move around easily in the classroom space, and feel as if they’re masters of it all.
The Right Tools
Students at a Montessori school learn practical skills in order to become self-reliant and more confident. To that end, many of the tools of practical life come in kid sizes, as well. There are kid-sized brooms, watering cans, utensils, gardening tools, furniture, and dishes, etc.
The Right Toys
Among the most vital elements of the prepared environment are the educational toys available in the shelf bins of each classroom. Well-crafted and colorful, the toys are designed to challenge students to a particular task. Each Montessori classroom has a very specific set of toys meant to catch a student’s attention based on their developmental phase. So while babies are exploring sensory toys, older kids in another classroom may be manipulating bright beads and spindle boxes in the process of absorbing mathematical concepts.
Though there’s always lots of activity going on in a Montessori classroom, the atmosphere is supportive, orderly, and cooperative, in good part due to the smart design of the prepared environment.