The Prepared Environment

“The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult.” Maria Montessori

The Montessori ‘prepared environment’ is designed and structured to have the ‘child at the center’. In other words, it is a world where the child can follow their intrinsic desire to explore, learn and thus discover their unique learning path and potential.

The ‘child centered’ environment does not inhibit the child, rather it supports, guides and leads the child on a continual journey. One which is based on individualized self -realization and intellectual nurturing. It mainly incorporates six attributes:

Prepared Environment
Freedom

Within the prepared environment, a child must be free to follow his or her natural impulses. They must experience freedom of movement and choice and be able to freely explore, thus developing self – potential and increasing their knowledge of the world. Furthermore, the child must have the freedom to interact with peers and adults and yet befree from the interference of others. Ultimately, we could consider that it is ‘freedom within a structured environment.’

Beauty

A beautiful environment is one which is calm, inviting, uncluttered and well – maintained. It provokes curiosity and reflects the care and attention of the guiding Montessori Directress or teacher, who herself strives to be the epitome of beauty; graceful, calm of voice, never gaudily dressed and always well – groomed. Natural and real materials are prepared and set up within an aesthetically neutral backdrop, one which does not distract concentration or over stimulate the child.

Social Environment

When children have the freedom to interact with peers at will, they are more likely to develop empathy, understanding, language skills, conflict management and other areas of social and emotional development.

Some of our classes are purposely designed to encourage vertical, free flow between certain age groups, such as between our 2 – 3-year-olds and Foundation Stage classes.

Practical Life activities such as setting the table or tidying up evoke peer cooperation, discussion and planning, which children are encouraged to actively contribute to.

Structure and Order

Maria Montessori believed that order is intrinsic to the child: Indeed, the child has been born from the order of the universe, the womb and nature. The sensitive period for order is believed to be between birth and three years, therefore, an orderly environment which fosters structure is essential for the child to be able to make sense of his or her world.

A calm, orderly environment where change is carefully considered according to the child’s needs contributes to the beauty and harmony of a child’s experiences.

Nature and Reality

Maria Montessori was an advocate for getting children outdoors. She believed that educators should inspire children with nature and natural objects, taking learning outside, and bringing nature indoors wherever possible.

That’s why an authentic Montessori environment avoids plastic at all costs and champions natural materials such as bamboo, wood, wicca, metal, cotton, ceramic, twill and even glass. Wherever possible, children are encouraged to use ‘real’ tools and resources, so that their experience can be authentic and mirror the real world.

Intellectual Environment

When all the attributes of the prepared environment and Montessori education are implemented, the purpose of developing the intellect are achieved. The child becomes ‘centered’ or ‘normalized’ and we can consider that a truly holistic process of early years education has taken place, one which has addressed the whole child and their individual learning needs.

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