Prepared environment: Montessori at Home:
In my Montessori at Home series, I have spoken about why we do Montessori at home, I also touched base on the Montessori Prepared adult. Now we learn how to set up areas in our home environment that is toddler (child) size and toddler safe.
“The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult.”Maria Montessori The Secret of Childhood, 1966.
A Montessori environment is a place that maximizes and facilitates independent learning in children. It is simple, uncluttered, organized, calm, well-ordered, minimalist space.
Children can do various activities according to their interests, and abilities independently in their varying needs. Prepared Learning environments are designed to support and stimulate the development of social, intellectual, and ethical independence.
Elements of a prepared environment include:
- Freedom of movement and Choice
- Personal responsibility
- Reality and Nature
- Beauty and Harmony
Different types of Freedoms:
The Montessori environment should also support the child’s need for freedom. Children can make appropriate choices to find what they need independently to satisfy their inner drive.
Freedom of movement: Children need the freedom to explore and discover their environment independently.
There are two types of movement. These are whole body movement (gross motor equilibrium) as well as movement of the hand (fine motor hand-eye coordination). Areas in your home should allow for freedom of the child within limits. The adult sets up ‘Yes’ areas in the house for the child.
The child is part of the family, but traditional houses are set up only for grown-ups. We allow elements in the room to be prepared and set up with children in mind. These include safe areas, child sized furniture, and areas within the home that the child accesses and uses independently.
The organisation of the materials and activities are placed on open shelving usually in trays or on baskets according to the different areas of learning.
When considering Learning Areas for three to six-year-olds in a Montessori environment, we look at opportunities for indirect learning. These in turn prepare children for the future.
These include practical life, refinement of the senses (sensorial), communication, language and literacy. Numeracy and arithmetic, cultural aspects of life, and creativity (art) are other learning areas to consider.
Characteristics of effective early learning are defined as Engaging (playing and exploring), Motivational (active learning) and Thinking (creating and thinking critically).
Materials and activities that are available on the shelves should reflect the children’s developmental needs, interests, and sensitive periods.
Freedom from interruption nor interference from others: Children should be allowed ample time, full attention on their interests and repetition time to do the activity that they choose at their own pace. This need for repetition often relates to the child’s sensitive periods.
Freedom of speech
(interact socially with others) relates directly to the sensitive period for language. The child are encouraged and allowed to freely express and communicate thoughts and ideas. Children are discouraged from any dangerous or hurtful activities that may endanger them, other people, and the environment.
Parents and all members in the family are to model appropriate and polite behaviour, communication, and activities. This is practiced as we use positive language, modelling good manners, ways of speech and giving children time to speak, listen, be encouraged to converse, and participate in conversations.
Children are encouraged to return their activities back to the place where they got them from.
Freedom within limits calls for the safety, well-being, respect for one’s self, others, the environment and are consistent in setting clear boundaries as expressed within the prepared Montessori environment.
The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.Maria Montessori
Beauty and harmony the environment should be pleasing and inviting to the child. We also set up realistic, natural or nature representations materials, decorations, and activities on a child’s eye level. As well as offering opportunities for observation of nature inside and outside the home.
This simplicity gives the child independence within the environment and allows for the child to choose complete activities. (wholly, from start to finish, including self-clean up).
The child’s ability to contribute towards the care of the environment is one of the contributing factors to freedom with responsibility.
As well as creation of a cohesive social unit represented by the organisation of the home and by providing quiet areas for our children.
Montessori environments provide high-quality resources for self-expression. These include art media, collage making, modelling, printing, mark-making, and props for spontaneous role play. Not forgetting gardening and caring for pets and plants.
Order plays an important role in a Montessori environment. It allows the children to focus during times when they are experiencing rapid and changing growth and development. A safe known spot for the growth and development of children.
“The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which we can sow the seeds of learning.”Maria Montessori
With time, the child develops self-discipline (which comes from experiencing a rich Montessori prepared environment). They also develop compassion, generosity, trust, respect of adults and peers, and a greater understanding of themselves and who they are.
I would like to add that when it comes to Montessori at Home, we do need to go on wild purchases for Insta worthy Pinterest homes.
We start with what we have using simple, DIY, repurposed, second-hand solutions to give the child independent access to our homes.
We do not need full rooms. Montessori at Home can also
be applied when you room share.
In conclusion: A prepared environment is stimulating, encouraging, simple and realistic for the child to develop independently. We set our homes up to meet the various developmental needs, interests, and sensitive periods. Join me on Instagram for more updates, resources, and activities on Montessori at Home.
Things to consider when setting up your Prepared Montessori Environment:
A space for everything and everything in it’s place
Trays and baskets for activities
A place to put these activities
Child sized furniture
Clean and order
Standing table in the kitchen
Self care station at child’s height
Access to child size cutlery, healthy snacks and drinking water
A quiet place (cozy corner)
Floor bed for easy entry
Child sized Table and Chair for work / play
Art and Crafts area and easy access
Stepping stool for toilet use
More from MrsChettyLife: https://mrschettylifestyle.co.za/nature-walks/
Cheers to a Happy Montessori At Home