You have probably noticed that your child’s Montessori daycare is a carefully prepared environment. The furniture is child-sized, the activities are age-appropriate, and everything has a designated place. This arrangement is important for early childhood education, and parents are encouraged to adopt similar arrangements at home.
Defining a Prepared EnvironmentThe prepared environment is many things. It is orderly and arranged, but contains activities that attract young minds. It should be designed to give a child maximum freedom of movement and independent access to materials. It should be comfortable for a child, designed around the child’s perspective, and intended as an area she can claim as her own.
The Children’s HouseMontessori’s original school was named Casa dei Bambini, or The Children’s House, a name that is frequently used today by Montessori schools. But the term is also used to refer to a Montessori-style classroom, indicating a place where kids are the normal occupants and adults are out-sized in comparison to the environment. The design removes barriers against the child’s movement and choices, as it provides activities that stimulate their imagination and encourage learning new things.
The Absorbent MindChildren are naturally interested in learning new things. The world is large and their personal experience is very small. Learning and doing help them broaden their horizons, gives them a sense of accomplishment, and spurs curiosity about their surroundings.
Prepared Environments at HomeIn your home, a child-sized bookcase, small table, and pictures hung at eye level are a good beginning. Activities such as the Pink Tower, Brown Stairs, or Binomial Cubes offer stimulating activities that teach important concepts while promoting fine motor control, personal achievement, and critical thinking skills. But the children’s house does not stop in a corner or bedroom. Child-sized kitchen utensils, miniature tools, and other common objects allow your child to participate in frequent household activities, instilling a sense of belonging and inclusion.
Another advantage of the Montessori approach at home is durability. Authentic Montessori activities are made of wood, providing an inviting texture and long-lasting functionality that flows from the toddler years through around the age of 6. This type of prepared environment is carefully defined and geared exclusively toward the development of children.