The environment, in addition to the student and the classroom guide, is the “third teacher.” Just as every child effortlessly absorbs his native language, so he absorbs the ideas guiding the design of his environment.
The Prepared Environment
The Prepared Environment & Montessori Learning Avenues
Dr. Maria Montessori’s vision for the ideal classroom was to create what is called a “prepared environment” for maximum success in learning, exploration & growth. Her model for the of prepared environment is a calm, ordered and highly-structured learning environment where children are capable of freely choosing their own activities in a self-directed manner.
In contrast to the discipline-driven classrooms in traditional education, in a Montessori preschool teachers act as guides for the children, helping facilitate learning independent learning and exploration. Rather than strictly directing children to undertake specific tasks at specific times, Montessori students are provided “freedom within limits”, where the structure in the environment itself directs their attention to learning activities. Teachers do not need to force children to fit into a learning mold, because the environment itself is the path to growth and skills mastery – allowing teachers to prepare the environment and guide students while the children themselves maintain the structure, order, and harmony of the prepared environment.
In the Montessori prepared environment, children are given the freedom to explore and develop their unique potential, and materials are organized by subject into avenues of learning. Children have access to the right tools at the right time, for a range of activities beginning with concrete learning activities and growing more abstract as they master fundamental skills.
Within the learning avenues, the Montessori classrooms offers an array of materials designed to match a variety of different developmental levels and appeal to the unique interests of each child. The learning materials in a prepared environment are organized on child-height, shelves for accessibility, and the furniture, fixtures, tools, and utensils in a Montessori classroom are all designed for children as well. Hence, the prepared environment is made accessible to children, and designed to foster independent growth to the greatest extent possible.
“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.”-Dr. Maria Montessori
After School Enrichment Program