The community of children in a Montessori classroom is one of a microcosm of the larger social scale. There is a range of ages, within planes of development, to provide challenge levels and peer tutoring. You will witness a balance of genders and a high child to adult ratio. A Montessori environment does not revolve around the adult, rather the adult is a guide to the larger cohort of those doing the learning. Social and emotional learning is inseparable from the day to day of the child’s education.The Montessori classroom is referred to as the prepared environment. This carefully thought out space provides freedoms for independent exploration and work for the children with age appropriate boundaries and explicit sensibility for safety. The core academic curriculum can be found on the shelves of the classroom all year around. Children are introduced to the materials by their teachers, usually in individual or small group lessons, and once introduced the child is welcome to work with and return to this material as often as is needed for their own discovery. The right amount of challenge is always gauged by the teacher to keep the child interested and the child is welcome to share their newfound knowledge with their peers by working with other children.There is a clear sense of order for the child, and this is presented primarily in the 5 main areas of a Montessori classroom. These areas are described as Practical Life, Culture, Sensorial, Number, and Language. Clear language is given for the areas of the classroom and for the names of the activities within the areas. Using clear and enriched vocabulary consistently enables independence for the children to explore unhindered by the need to return to an adult for assistance. Despite the outward simplicity of this arrangement the opportunity for materials and the concepts to intertwine and support further exploration and concept is immeasurable and often quite spontaneous!
A Montessori environment respects that children learn from exploring with all the senses. Not only does the method provide explicit materials to heighten these senses and assist the development of cognition for life, a Montessori prepared environment allows freedom of movement and encourages the use of the senses in all areas of the curriculum. The furniture, floor area, layout, materials, and the social development of grace and courtesy toward others, all cater to achieving this.
Key to the Montessori method is a friendliness with error. From materials on the shelves to the way in which activities are presented to the child by the teacher, there is a control of error that ultimately allows the child under six to work independently and be the judges of their own successes. When provided this friendliness with error, the child will happily repeat activities until the knowledge is created within the child. More importantly perhaps, the child will continue to work simply for the enjoyment of the new skill! As children mature in their abilities, the need for a control of error is reduced until the child becomes the creator of his own projects and activities. We see this in the primary school years.
You will also see adults in the environment who are guiding the children using specific tools. These tools include a thorough understanding of the development of children from birth through to adulthood, despite working with just one age range; a rich understanding of how to deliver lessons on the Montessori materials; an ability to observe the child and provide lessons just in time not just in case; compassion, respect, and an unshakeable belief in the natural development of the child. The adults in the environment are the role models for how we expect the children to look after themselves, to interact with others, and to care for the environment.
What the Montessori Method can offer in the home: I Am Montessori believes that the home is the child’s first classroom, and similar preparation is essential to providing the age appropriate exploration from birth. Traits of the Montessori classroom can be applied to the home together with careful consideration for the abilities of all members of the family. Through careful planning of the environment and deliberate choice of the activities you place in the child’s environment, the joy felt by the child in their subsequent exploration and contribution to the family will support the development of your child for life.
The History of Montessori Education by Giraffe Childcare