The ultimate goal of the Montessori Prepared Environment has always been to teach our kids how to explore and learn in an independent manner. The environment therefore should ideally be tailored towards promoting this process of learning. Herein kids are meant to freely express themselves in a relaxed yet structured atmosphere.
With no shortage of fun activities, and ample physical interaction and expression, kids are drawn into enhanced learning, without even realising it. At the same time they get to work at their own natural pace. It’s this same carefully designed environment which helps to nurture vital life skills such as independence and discipline.
The Montessori Prepared Environment is built on six key philosophies that make it easy to develop independence in children from a very young age. Let us delve a bit into these principles so we can appreciate the unique approach and value only Montessori has to offer.
The first step to bringing out the best in a child is to allow them the freedom to be themselves. When a child goes out into the world and explores, discovers and figures things out for herself, she invariably unlocks her maximum potential. Acting on her own natural inclinations she builds confidence with every tiny aspect learned. This freedom extends to her interaction with others and also develops her motor skills. And by letting the smart environment do it’s work, the child learns the value and power of making choices independently.
Structure and Order
You might think an environment so intricately arranged might hinder the very freedoms we just spoke about. But actually, the Montessori classroom acts as a reflection of the natural order of things as we find in nature. This helps children to appreciate a sense of order in their surroundings. They develop an instinctive preference for beneficial environments and are always on the lookout for order. This quality remains with them throughout life as they learn to navigate an imperfect and challenging world.
Children have to feel relaxed and happy if the environment is going to work it’s magic. So the Montessori Prepared Environment should be peaceful, neatly arranged and pleasing to the eye. The goal is to make this special place of learning as inviting to kids as possible. This is achieved by setting up the classroom in a fashion that is undeniably simple yet still very tranquil. You will see both kids and their educators reaping the benefits of such an atmosphere.
Nature and Reality
Maria Montessori was a true lover of nature. She held very strongly that nature has the innate power to inspire our children. This is why you will find kids in Montessori classrooms are never confined to just the four walls, but are taken outside regularly. Within the structure of the classroom the natural elements of nature are also encouraged. Kids become familiar with seeing and touching items made of natural wood, stone and cotton. This is preferred over plastics and other synthetic materials. Virtually all furniture and tools used are designed to fit the child’s physical proportions. This makes completing tasks so much easier and enjoyable.
Montessori favours positive and healthy interaction. This is where the most essential social skills are realised. Kids learn how to feel for others, and how to assist and encourage their peers. The child makes rapid progress as well by learning to borrow the qualities learned from other children. Getting to play and learn at the same time in a group setting continues all the way along the Montessori curriculum. Kids are also allowed to mingle with different age groups found in the same wholesome environment.
The Montessori curriculum focuses mainly on Practical life skills, Language learning, Mathematics, Culture and the development of the senses. For children to reach their full potential in these subjects, it is imperative that the previously mentioned principles are solidly in place. This essential environment has proven time and again to be very effective for the intellectual development of children. By encouraging creativity in both learning and expression, the child’s personality is allowed to grow beyond the mere academic requirements of traditional schooling.