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The Montessori Classroom

The prepared environment is an important principle of Montessori methodology. For each age the classroom changes to fit the needs of the child. Certain elements such as freedom of movement and furnishings fit to the child’s proportions are constant.

Toddler

A toddler classroom has relatively few children, no more than ten children with two teachers.  The space is prepared for the children to move around safely while they do activities focused around self-care and care of the environment as well as language enrichment.  There are activities available indoors and out for toddlers to experience gross motor exercises. While the focus of the early years is personal independence, toddlers take time in group activities and there is a lot attention placed on grace and courtesy in interactions.  The toddler class also has a consistent schedule that they do not stray from if they can help it, as the children need this in order to feel comfortable from day to day.

Primary

When Dr. Montessori was first establishing her methodology she called the class for this age the “casa dei bambini” which means children’s house. The primary environment then echoes aspects of a typical home environment.  There are up to 28 children across the ages of 2 years and 9 months to 6 years old with a teacher and two assistants. Throughout the day, children can choose from a variety of activities that include math and language as well as sensorial and practical life. There is an emphasis on treating materials and the environment with respect and the children are guided in lessons of civility. Primary classes are arranged with only one or two chairs at small tables so that the children can concentrate on their own individual work.

Elementary

Children of the elementary age are what Dr. Montessori called “cosmic” learners. They have strong interests coupled with quick imaginations. They have the ability to pursue ideas independently and are able to envision abstract ideas in science or scenes from history.  An elementary Montessori classroom has language, mathematics, sciences including biology, early physics, geography and chemistry, history, geometry, art and music. The teacher guides the children in sequenced age-appropriate lessons in these subjects, all the while encouraging the children to see the connections between them. With chaperones the children can leave the classroom in small groups or individually to find information. There is a greater emphasis at this age in truly collaborative problem solving and academic work so the room itself is arranged to accommodate this.