Saturday, October 30, 2010

Prepare the environment

Maria Montessori called the classroom the prepared environment. Think about that for a moment, the prepared environment. That makes a lot of sense. The classroom is the prepared environment, the environment (the classroom)needs to be prepared. Well, of course! We don't want our children in a class that is not prepared, do we? No, of course not. We want an environment that is appealing, well thought out, and stocked with materials.  Everything in the classroom should be well thought out, everything should be there for a reason. The furniture in the room should be well placed so that there are no hiding places, all children should be visible at all times for safety reasons. All work on the shelves should be whole, if a piece is missing or something is broken it should not be out for the child to work with. Imagine the disappointment of the child if they went to work with a puzzle only to find out that pieces are missing.
A critical aspect of the prepared environment is the order of the work on the shelves. Here is a phrase that you will hear often in the world of Montessori, top to bottom and left to right. This is how the work should be placed on the shelves.  The easiest material is first, on the top shelf all the way to the left. The most difficult material should be on the bottom shelf all the way to the right. This goes for every shelf in every area of the room. It is set up this way to keep order and structure. The child will learn where the material is kept making it easier at clean up time.  The room is  also structured this way to train the eye for reading, since we read left to right.
I could go on and on about the prepared environment, it is so important. More on another day....

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