All the materials in the Montessori classroom should be developmentally appropriate. They should be materials to help the child in his development of coordinated movement, language and independence. Independence is developed by the acquisition of real and practical life skills.
The Nido (Environment for the non-walking children from birth to about 15 months old)
This environment should be similar to the home. The same basic four areas. An area for eating, movement, physical care and sleeping.
Note that the area for sleeping uses floor beds, not cribs. Also note the weaning table and chair for the children who are starting to eat solids. Part of weaning is the psychological change. The child now sits facing the adult instead of being held. Younger children who are still bottle fed can be fed in the rocking chair allowing them to still enjoy that holding benefits of breast/bottle feeding.
Some materials you should see in a nido include:
A movement mat with mobiles, rattles and other objects of different textures and shapes for visual, tactile and auditory stimulation.
Bars to pull up and cruise along
Space (and freedom) for movement
and Materials for object permanence and eye hand coordination
The children should be given opportunities for activity so they feel free to move and not confined in container like jumparoos, swings etc. There should also be no TV which is another way that children are indirectly confined to passivity.
This is not an exhaustive list of materials you would find in the Nido, just some examples.
The Toddler Community (Walking child till 3 years old)
When the child goes into the toddler community, he can continue to work on refining his movement especially his fine motor movement, he can increase his vocabulary and learn practical life skills. Some of the things you should see in the toddler community are the following:
Materials for refining fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination
Materials for Language enrichment
Materials for Learning to Care for one’s self
Materials for Learning to Care for the environment
Materials for Food preparation
All of these materials help the child in his acquisition of independence
There are also materials for art and music
Just to summarize, in an authentic Montessori school, the prepared environment is one of the pillars. It is beautiful, attractive, child-sized and filled with developmentally appropriate materials and activities, which the child has freedom to choose from and work with.
Did you look at this pictures and wonder where the blackboard and notebooks are? Next, I will be discussing the method.
Anyone can look at pictures and replicate this environment but do they understand the method and the application? This is another key consideration in choosing a Montessori school.
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