Next to the family, the Montessori classroom is the place of importance in the world of a child. The Montessori classroom is a social institution that not only determines the present state of the child but also their future. In “The Absorbent Mind”, Dr Maria Montessori wrote, “The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement is being formed…At no other age has the child greater need of intelligent help, and any obstacle that impedes his creative work will lessen the chance he has of achieving perfection.” In order to help children Maria Montessori developed what she called “the prepared environment.” In Montessori, the classroom is called the Prepared Environment. The first task of a Montessori teacher is to setup her classroom.
Age between 3 to 6 years the child is being introduced to the world. So Dr. Maria believes strongly in providing an environment rich in all areas of learning so that the child can choose, from his own perception, what he is ready to learn. When creating the classroom environment there are 3 things has to be considered. They are beauty, order and accessibility. Key principles of the prepared environment are order, and choice, freedom, mixed age range, movement, and control of error, materials and the role of the adult.
At the time preparing the classroom environment the Montessori Materials are the heart of the classroom. Montessori classrooms are carefully prepared environments, housing an array of carefully designed materials suited to the child. The Montessori material was developed and compiled by Maria Montessori herself. After many years of careful study and observation of the children in her school, she put together materials that fully stimulate the child’s inner desire to learn and become more independent from the adults around him. Developmentally suitable materials make easy learning in a hierarchy from simple to complex and real to theoretical. They are child sized, inviting, beautiful and attractive to the children, and provide a hands-on learning experience. All the work materials and furniture are child sized, giving the child full freedom to move-about and explore. This also allows child to be more active and the teacher more passive. The environment does not contain any objects that the child may not use or that delay his development, nor it contains any materials that are broken or incomplete. These materials are attractive to young children because they were designed to cater to the sensitive periods. They are tools that allow the child to explore the world and develop essential cognitive skills.
Materials are arranged in an orderly way in the prepared environment on open, accessible shelves. The materials are key element in the environment, as the child learns through the materials, many of which are self correcting, rather than directly through the teacher. Also the materials are designed in such away that children can see their own success, as well as their errors. If the child has done something incorrectly it will be self evident. Being able to see his or her own mistake allows the child to work independently. This is known as a “control of error”. Just by using the material the child will be guided towards its purpose. “The environment itself will teach the child, if every error he makes is manifest to him, without the intervention of a parent or teacher, who should remain a quiet observer of all that happens.” Quotes by Maria Montessori 1870-1952, from Montessori Teachers collective, http://www.littleredrobin.com/pages/quotes_by_maria_montessori.asp , 2009
Materials are arranged in an orderly way in the prepared environment on open, accessible shelves, which encourages children to freely choose and explore. Each piece of material has a special lasting place so that children know where to find it and where...
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