The Prepared Environment
The classrooms in Avenues Montessori Children’s House follows Dr. Maria Montessori’s guidelines for the creation of a beautiful and prepared work environment that inspires the child’s natural tendency to work. The Prepared Environment is not a carbon copy – it is a unique, thought-out environment that can change and will evolve over time. It takes us into the real world and is designed for a particular kind of work that matches the natural interests of the child at a particular stage in life and in growth. Some common elements of any Montessori Prepared Environment are to assist, nurture, and protect development, and to ensure that each individual has the liberty to follow their natural course.
Characteristics of the Prepared Environment
The working materials here have been used for many years, in many cultures, so we can truly say that the children have chosen them. The room is clean and orderly. Each object has its place on the shelves and remains there unless in use. The environment is completely proportionate to the size of the children. It is simple, limited, and comfortable. Everything is within reach. There is a teacher, well trained and cheerful, ready to put the children in contact with the material that has so much power.
Children enter the classroom with lessons in Practical Life: pouring, washing, polishing, and sweeping, to practice hand coordination and to practice the activities of real life. These give tremendous satisfaction and will carry over at home. In addition, the Prepared Environment includes Sensorial Materials, designed to refine the senses. At this age the senses are especially keen; it is the time when the artist’s eye and the musician’s ear are developed. The materials are not designed to give new experiences, but to refine the sensory impressions they already have. The children study sizes, shapes and colors, learn their names and how to compare them.
In addition to Practical Life and Sensorial Materials, the Prepared Environment has materials to enhance understanding of Language, Mathematics, Science, Geography, Music and Art. As children move through the classroom, they may choose to work with a puzzle map or models of land forms, play the bells or walk on the line, trace metal insets or manipulate materials that sink and those that float. For language, children may choose nomenclature cards, sandpaper letters, and the moveable alphabet. For mathematics, the child has the opportunity to count with the spindle box or use the golden beads to explore the decimal system up to the thousands. The environment has been created with concrete materials that the children may manipulate with their hands and minds.