Preparing Materials for the Montessori Environment
Montessori teachers spend a great deal of time and effort carefully preparing materials for the Montessori environment to meet the needs of all the children. Because a Montessori classroom typically has children belonging to a three-year age range, there are numerous levels of readiness and understanding in one classroom. For that reason, the teacher needs to make certain that the classroom has all the materials necessary for each age and level of ability.
How Montessori Teachers Prepare Materials for the Montessori Classroom and Prepared Environment
As you would expect, the Montessori teacher ensures that the classroom contains fundamental materials expertly and precisely designed by Maria Montessori. Often, the teacher includes supplementary materials that support the Montessori curriculum. She takes time to carefully consider each material and make sure that it reflects the ideas of the Montessori method before adding it the environment. Materials should preferably be made of natural materials to reflect a reverence for nature. They should be beautiful and inviting to the child. As well, materials should also be real and scaled to the child’s size. It is also beneficial if the materials have a control of error. Maria Montessori designed many of her materials with a control of error, allowing the child to self-correct. This promotes independence and allows quick feedback to the child.
When making materials for the classroom, the Montessori teacher takes great time and care to ensure beautiful and exact work. When creating a set of nomenclature cards, for example, she carefully centers each picture onto the colored cardstock. She is also accurate in her spelling and grammar, and in the information she includes.
Once a Montessori classroom is established and all the materials have been purchased or carefully made, it is important for the teacher to regularly maintain and care for the materials so they remain inviting to the child. Materials should only stay on the shelf if they are accurate, complete, and in good condition.
The Montessori teacher is never truly finished preparing the classroom materials as the environment is ever growing and changing.
Throughout the year, the teacher carefully observes the children and anticipates their needs and areas of interest. She follows the children, providing supplementary materials they will be drawn to and ensuring the environment is enticing and interesting.
The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.
—Maria Montessori,The Absorbent Mind, p. 84.
To maintain a learning environment that meets the needs of all children, the task of preparing materials is never complete for the Montessori teacher. It is an ongoing process throughout the year that requires time, considerable attention, and care.