The prepared environment in the classroom is the foundation of the learning experience for the Montessori child. It is orderly; it provides freedom of movement, all materials are easily accessible, the teachers are encouraging, and the child, under the teachers' guidance is provided every opportunity to explore his or her areas of interest. It is an environment free of turmoil, and if there is conflict, all the participants are given an opportunity to voice their side of the issue and, with the assistance of a teacher, reach a resolution.
Whether a student is entering Montessori at three months or entering Middle School, the underlying parameters of the prepared environment are the same-- Always encouraging, always treating the student with respect, and at the same time setting an example that teaches her/him how to interact with others. That encouraging environment creates the perfect learning opportunity and through example, helps the student develop self-confidence while setting him or her on a path towards mature, objective thought processes based on respect for others.
Montessori is always about more than learning math or science or writing. It is about the acquisition of self-confidence and life skills that make learning interesting and it is about becoming a self-confident, caring individual with a love of learning and a sense of responsibility to the world he or she lives in.
When new knowledge is acquired within degrees of relative ease based on interest, the student builds self-confidence that makes him interested in acquiring additional knowledge. That self-confidence helps the student to develop and follow a path of choice. Being treated with respect helps the student develop mature thought processes and respect for the thoughts and rights of others while providing a foundation that will enable the child to become a thoughtful, objective, caring student who will carry those qualities throughout life.
But Montessori schools are only open a small portion of the 24 hour day. Just as the student learns from the prepared environment of the classroom, the child learns from the environment of the home. That is one of the reasons why Dr. Montessori said, "The parent is the first teacher of the child."
We want to help parents to better understand how and why Montessori works so that they can be more effective "teachers of the child."
During the coming summer months, it is in your child's interest to help him or her retain the social and educational progress that has blossomed this year. That can best be accomplished by helping to ensure your home provides a supportive, Montessori environment.
If you are interested in learning how your home can provide a supportive Montessori environment, leading by example, please speak with your Head of School or your child's teacher.