A Peek Into a REAL Montessori Classroom

Most often one does not find the teacher at a desk when peeking into a Montessori pre or junior school clas. Rather one may find him or her amongst the children, often on the floor. The focus here is on children learning, achieved through preparation of environment and organisation of learning materials to meet the needs and interests of each child. Some ways that Montessori teachers inspire learning are

• Not interrupting the child at work

• Allowing children to arrive at solutions on their own

• Providing “the three-period” lesson

Did you know that by maintaining eye contact, one communicates that one is truly present when interacting. Montessori teachers prioritise eye contact. Making eye contact and lowering down to the child’s level models courteous behaviour, such as manners, courtesy and grace.

How important do you think eye contact is in the classroom?

The word “Freedom” is sometimes misunderstood in the context of a Montessori classroom. Maria Montessori understood the importance of movement for childhood development and the importance of movement allowed in a classroom in order to develop concentration and self-regulation. Thus in a Montessori class, children are not free to do whatever they please, rather freedom in a Montessori classroom means freedom within limits provided through for example:

  • ️Accessible shelves and furniture allowing children to do things themselves️ 
  • Spacious classrooms with desk and mat space so children can move easily without bothering others

The Montessori Prepared Environment

… with particular reference to the 3 to 6 year-old community

Montessori Classrooms are arranged to present learning opportunities to children. This organised preparation meets the natural and unique curiosity of the 3-6 year old child and maximizes his or her interest in exploration and independent learning.

There is much purposeful movement and industrious activity in a Montessori classroom, as children learn best from direct experience. The central elements of the classroom include:

Freedom – of choice, movement, social interaction … and from interference. This fosters motivation and self-discipline. Directresses observe closely and gently correct where necessary.

Beauty – the environment should be as inviting as possible; this encourages children to touch and manipulate objects.

Order – the environment should reflect the order and structure of the universe.

Natural materials – the Montessori environment includes wood, bamboo, glass, cotton and other natural materials (as opposed to plastics and synthetic materials). Montessori directresses also prefer to take the children outdoors and into nature (the garden or park or forest) whenever possible.

Social awareness – the prepared environment encourages empathy and compassion.

Intellectual environment – the prepared environment stimulates the child’s whole personality including their concentration, imagination and intellect.

The directress is responsible for preparing the environment with age appropriate sensorial materials to make it appealing to the children. The materials are ordered from concrete to abstract and from simple to complex, and the child may choose which activity they wish to tackle.

These developmentally appropriate materials appeal to the interests of different children at different times, but over the cycle of 3 years the children will have explored them all. The prepared environment remains orderly because the children work on one activity at a time and return the activity to its place once they have finished with it.

“The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult.”
Maria Montessori

Interested to learn more? Contact Knysna Montessori

Article courtesy Knysna Montessori School

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