As you become familiar with the underlying philosophy of Montessori education, you will learn some new terms and phrases. The concept of a ‘prepared environment’ is one that you will encounter as you research Montessori education as an option for your child. The founder of the Montessori Philosophy, Maria Montessori, made the concept of a ‘prepared environment’ foundational to the Montessori Method. You need to have a basic understanding of the prepared environment in order to grasp all the ways a Montessori program will benefit your child.
What does ‘prepared environment’ mean in the Montessori classroom?
In the Montessori classroom, the prepared environment is a place that provides students with opportunities to learn and explore independently. The prepared environment is full of developmentally appropriate activities and tools for the students. The teacher prepares different areas throughout the room with hands-on learning activities. Students get the opportunity to move through the classroom and have some choice when it comes to which activities to participate in. The environment is prepared for the students which means everything is within easy reach and is developmentally appropriate.
How does the prepared environment benefit students?
A prepared environment benefits students by promoting independence, self-directed learning, and exploration. In the Montessori Philosophy, the overarching goal for school is to prepare students for success in life. Independence, self-directed learning, and exploration are all important elements for success in life. Learning is not something that happens only in the classroom or ends once school is done. The prepared environment helps students feel a sense of control over what they learn. Having choices when it comes to learning can be powerful. A sense of control over what they learn can then help students develop a sense of responsibility for what they learn. If the students come to believe that learning is largely up to them then learning can continue throughout life. A prepared environment that is thoughtfully laid out can help students develop these important beliefs while ensuring that they get what they need on a practical level. Students have choices about learning inside the Montessori classroom but every choice is part of the environment the teacher prepared specifically for the students.
Can I create a prepared environment at home?
Learning is not reserved only for the classroom – it can happen anywhere. You can create a prepared environment in your own home to support the learning your child does in the Montessori classroom. This can be as simple as having small toys your child can use to practice adding and subtracting or gathering age-appropriate books on a topic that is interesting to your child. Items or groups of items that encourage exploration and independent learning can be used to create a prepared environment in your home.
If the prepared environment is a new concept to you, it will help to schedule a time to observe a class. Once you see the prepared environment in action you will understand how beneficial this classroom design is for students. You can schedule a time to observe a class at any of the Fountainhead Montessori School campuses and see a prepared environment firsthand.