“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.” ~Maria Montessori
What do Montessori educators mean by the term prepared environment? A prepared learning environment supports a student’s natural curiosity, encourages creativity, aids cooperative learning, and imparts knowledge. Materials, spaces, and equipment are carefully tailored to support each child’s developmental learning stages while promoting mastery of language and math abilities, integrated cultural studies, sensorial activities and practical life exercises.
The five different areas of our Montessori private school classroom focus on:
- To assist each child’s adaptation to culture
- To encourage self-expression and independence
- To give opportunities for participation in work with small groups
- To develop the appreciation for spoken language
- To assist each student in putting his/ her thoughts into words
- To reach the ultimate goals of reading, writing, and comprehension
The Montessori language curriculum is a well-rounded program. It enables children to effortlessly master the complex task of reading and writing by encouraging their natural desire to read, write, and communicate. An environment rich in vocabulary exposes them to familiar and unfamiliar terminology. Matching, sorting, categorizing, and patterning exercises develop visual discrimination and spatial skills.
- To inculcate logic, order, and exactitude
- To introduce each child to abstract mathematical concepts
- To develop associations of quantity and symbol (name and number recognition)
- To develop the concept of number sequence (cardinal and ordinal)
- To concretely experience the formation of complex numbers (1-9000)
- To experience the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) through a multi-sensory approach
- To apply mathematical concepts in daily life
- To introduce concepts of geometry, measurement, and logic
The Montessori math materials are aesthetically appealing, precise, and simple. Through active hands-on manipulation, students explore numbers, develop problem solving skills, and grasp complex mathematical concepts. Within each Montessori prepared environment, the practical life and sensorial classroom areas lay the foundation for mathematical concepts by providing numerous opportunities to experience association and 1:1 correspondence. Not only does each child learn name and number recognition, but each masters building and counting the numbers using hands-on materials. Students explore the four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Students also learn geometry, fractions, measurement, and graphing skills. Analyzing data and complex problem solving strategies are an integral part of this innovative math curriculum.
- To bring about an appreciation of nature and the environment
- To develop trust and confidence in living creatures
- To develop the concept of the different branches of science (life sciences, physical sciences, and earth sciences)
- To show that all living and non-living beings in the universe are interdependent and interrelated to each other
- To expand our horizons and bring about cultural literacy
- To inculcate an awareness of the world around us
The cultural studies area of our Montessori classrooms is impossible to miss. With the help of the geography materials, distant lands, diverse cultures, and people become a reality. Sensorial explorations of directionality, body awareness, weather, and calendar lay the foundation for geography. Young children are innate explorers. They possess a natural curiosity for the known and the unknown. Nature studies include the concept of living and non-living and an introduction to the plant and animal kingdoms. Science experiments, research, and field trips assist students in pursuing their own interests among a wide range of cultural subjects.
- To refine sensory perceptions
- To aid the child in classifying sensorial qualities
- To nurture the process of self-control through refined movements
- To work toward abstract thinking and reasoning
- To work toward an extended memory
- To build an extended vocabulary
Sensorial activities in our Montessori classrooms provide fundamental preparation for all further work in the prepared environment, such as: extending work cycle, encouraging work in small groups, and preparing indirectly for mathematics, language and writing. Activities in this area sharpen the five senses and help each child become a trained observer. Sensorial materials develop visual and tactile discrimination of different dimensions, color, shape and form. The most important aspect of this area is the indirect preparation it provides. Early childhood learning experiences in this vital area lay the perfect foundation for the later development of more advanced skills and concepts in language, math, and science.
- Assists each child’s development intellectually, physically, and socially
- Assists each child’s adaptation to his/ her culture
- Encourages eye-hand coordination, develops graceful movement of the body (gross motor), and refines fine motor skills (pincer grasp)
- Assists the integration of body and mind
- Allows each child to experience and develop the concept of a work cycle
- Encourages harmony between mind and body
- Leads toward independent functioning through the care of self and environment
- Is a necessary basis for all creative art, higher learning, and effective human relationships and productive actions
- Encourages and develops independence, organization, orderliness, and coordination
- Enhances responsibility and problem solving skills
Practical life exercises in our Montessori classrooms provide fundamental preparation for all further work in math, language, science, and geography in several important ways. They are carefully designed to help students: follow a sequence of activity, develop and gradually expand concentration and attention span, practice self-control and self-discipline, as well as grow in self-confidence. In many ways, the exercises of practical life hold the key to the success of the Montessori program. These simple exercises with attractive and brightly-colored objects invite children to explore and play. While actively interacting with the materials, each child refines his/ her fine motor skills. Concentration and coordination increase, and a sense of order and independence develops. This area also builds a bridge between home and school. It is truly preparation for life. Exercises in pouring, hand washing, polishing, table setting, etc. develop skills in self-care and care of the environment.