Choosing a Montessori School – The prepared environment

I received an email from a reader asking for what to look for when evaluating Montessori schools for her son. I tried to answer in a way that helps any reader looking for a Montessori school for their child.

There are three basic categories I would look at and ask about if considering a Montessori school for my child. They are the prepared environment, the method, and the adults (teachers).

Today I will be discussing the environment, with a focus on children from 0-3

The Prepared Environment: Maria Montessori came up with different environments for children in different planes and sub planes of development. You will find a different classroom set up for each of the following age groups

  • 0 – walking/15-18months (Called a nido or Infant community)
  • 18months- 2.5/3years old (Called the Infant community or Toddler community )
  • 2.5/3 – 6 years old (Called the Casa, Casa de bambini, Children’s house or Primary
  • 6-9* (Called Lower Elementary)
  • 9-12* (Called Upper Elementary)
  • 12-15 (Called Secondary or Middle School)

*Sometimes combined to 6-12

While each of these environments are different and prepared to support the child’s development for that specific age group, there are some qualities they all have in common.

– It should be Beautiful and attractive such that it calls to the child. Some factors that contribute to the beauty are light, space, colors, simplicity. It is not cluttered or over stimulating.

A welcoming space
A welcoming space

– Orderly: A place for everything and everything in it’s place. This supports the child’s need for order, provides security and allows him to be independent

 

Can you tell which one is the music shelf and which one is the language shelf?
Can you tell which one is the music shelf and which one is the language shelf?

The furniture should be the child’s size and weighted appropriately so that the child can use it independently. Materials are also at the child’s level

Little bench and shoe shelf allows this 19 month old take off and store her shoes independently
Little bench and shoe shelf allows this 19 month old take off and store her shoes independently
Child sized tables and chairs. Cubbies that can be reached independently
Child sized tables and chairs. Cubbies that can be reached independently

There should be space for movement: The shelves and tables and set up to encourage movement. It is through movement that the children experience the environment and learn.

Space, freedom and opportunity to move
Space, freedom and opportunity to move

Materials should be made of natural materials such as wood, glass, fabric, metal etc.There should be plants, flowers, pictures, paintings and other aesthetic materials.

Aesthetically pleasing environment
Aesthetically pleasing environment. Notice there is little or no plastic

Come back tomorrow to see specifics on the environment for the walking vs. non-walking child.

As always I would love to hear from you… questions, comments, contributions

 

Live a Good Life!

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5 thoughts on “Choosing a Montessori School – The prepared environment

  1. I’m going to brag a little and say that I think I have a very beautiful space for my classroom (this is just luck, I know) and that I’ve set it up in a way that really works on all the levels you touch on.

    But, wow, your classroom puts mine to shame. It really is so lovely. The use of plants and art is gorgeous. The natural light is beautiful. The shelves are beautifully simple and yet the work on them can be made complex, just with the addition of a child’s hands and mind.

    I am going next week to set up my classroom again after some construction and painting and this post is an inspiration. Thank you.

    1. Thanks a lot Starrhillgirl! I would love to see pictures of your environment and yes, a beautiful space to start with involves some luck.

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