The Prepared Environment

Montessori’s idea of the prepared environment was that everything the child came in contact with would facilitate and maximize independent learning and exploration.

The Six Principles of the Montessori Prepared Environment are:

1. Freedom

Montessori believed that a child must be free to explore and follow their own natural impulses, thus developing their potential and increasing their knowledge of the world around them.

2. Structure and Order

Structure and Order in the Montessori classroom accurately reflect the sense of structure and order in the universe. By using the Montessori classroom environment as a microcosm of the universe, the child begins to internalize the order surrounding him/her, thus making sense of the world in which he/she lives.

3. Beauty

Uncluttered and well-maintained, the environment reflects peace and tranquillity and invites the learner to come in and work.

4. Nature and Reality

Montessori had a deep respect and reverence for nature. She believed that we should use nature to inspire children. This is why natural materials are preferred in the prepared environment. Real wood, reeds, bamboo, metal, cotton, and glass are preferred to synthetics or plastics.

It is here where child-size real objects come into play. Furniture is child-size so the child is not dependent on the adult for movement. Rakes, hoes, pitchers, tongs, shovels should all fit children’s hands and height so that the work is made easier, thus ensuring proper use and completion of the work without frustration.

5. Social environment

Where there is freedom to interact, children learn to encourage and develop a sense of compassion and empathy for others. As children develop, they become more socially aware, preparing to work and play in groups. This social interaction is supported throughout the environment and is encouraged with the nature of multi-age classroom settings.

6. Intellectual environment

If the above aspects are not recognized, the intellectual environment will not reach its purpose. The purpose of the Montessori environment is to develop the whole personality of the child, not merely their intellect.

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