The Purpose of the Prepared Environment
Updated: Feb 27, 2020
Montessori classrooms are renowned for their beautiful environments, rich in hand-crafted materials, and designed with precision. The materials are organized in a perfect sequence, from simple to complex, and from concrete to abstract. The shelves are organized by content, and are often color coded to present uniformity. The materials themselves are full of bright colors that draw the child's attention, attracting them to engage with the materials. All of these elements were specifically designed to create the Montessori classroom to be the perfect place environment for children to learn.
How Do Children Learn? This was an important question to answer in order to create an environment suitable for children. Maria Montessori was revolutionary in early childhood education because she was one of few among her contemporaries to consider the child first. She understood the importance of creating an environment that was conducive to learning by having materials that were appropriate for children. She was the first to design child-sized desks and chairs for a child. She named her first Montessori environment the "Children's House", and it was fitted as exactly that--a small house entirely designed for a child. Small tables and chairs, with child-sized plates, spoons, and napkins. In this way, the child could do all the "adult" things they observed at home, but now in a way that was appropriate for them. The Practical Life area was introduced because Maria Montessori saw how children desired to do all the "work" that they observed their parents doing at home, such as washing dishes, setting the table, or folding laundry.
"The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the child independent of the adult."
Montessori believed in the importance of empowering the child through the Montessori environment by giving him choices of activity that were appropriate for him. By eliminating some of the hindrances or limitations that are found in an adult-driven world, the Montessori prepared environment plays a major role in the development of the child's independence. The materials are designed specifically for a child, so he may experience the greatest amount of success, and therefore build his confidence and motivation to continue to learn.