| Key Elements Of The Montessori Classroom
The environment includes the education
materials, exercises and people.
The Teacher & Principal
The teacher is the link between the child and
the environment. The principal watches over the environment and
care for it. Her influence is indirect and she places an
emphasis on the prepared environment which encourages the growth and
development of the children.
Six Basic Components
There are six basic components to the
Montessori classroom environment. They deal with the concepts of
freedom, structure and order, reality, beauty, atmosphere, and the
development of community life through the Montessori materials.
1. Freedom/Independence - In the
Montessori environment, it is believed that you can be independent
without being free, but you cannot be free if you have not acquired at
least some degree of independence. Montessori defines an
independent person as one who can function without the immediate help
of others. Teachers must "help" children only as much as
necessary for them to be able to help themselves. All
unnecessary help is a deterrent to growth and development. The
child needs independence to pursue the task of becoming the person
he/she is meant to be.
2. Structure and Order - Through
an orderly environment, the child learns to trust the environment and
the power to interact with it becomes more positive. As a result
of structure and order, children know what to do and where to go for
books, equipment, materials, etc. We insist that children return
all materials to its proper place and in doing so, they become an
integral partner in maintaining the order of the environment.
3. Reality - Dr. Montessori
believed that the child must have the opportunity to internalize the
limits of nature and reality if they are to be freed from fantasies
and illusions, both physical and psychological. The fantastic is
not fantastic for the very young because they do not yet know the
normal functions of things - it may confuse their efforts to construct
their world. The equipment in the classroom is therefore geared
to bringing the child into closer contact with reality. Also,
keeping with the real world where everyone cannot have the same thing
at once (there is only one piece of each type of equipment in the
classroom). Since the child has no alternatives, they learn to
wait until their classmate is finished (taking turns).
Gradually, the child comes to see he/she must respect the work of
others not because a teacher says they must, but because it is a
reality in the daily experience.
4. Beauty and Atmosphere -
Closely connected with an emphasis on nature is the fourth concept.
Beauty and atmosphere encourages a positive and spontaneous response
to life. Dr. Montessori believed the room should be inviting,
bright, cheerful, and harmoniously arranged in order to encourage
5. Montessori Equipment - The
fifth component is widely publicized and its role is often
misunderstood. Because of the visibility, the Montessori
materials tend to be overemphasized in relation to the other elements
in the Montessori teaching method. The Montessori materials are
not learning equipment in the conventional sense. The aim is not
an external one of teaching children skills or imparting knowledge;
the aim is an internal one of assisting the child's self-construction
and psychic development. The materials aid this growth by providing the child with stimuli that captures
the attention and initiate the process of concentration.
6. Development of Community Life - The spontaneous creation of a community of children is one of the
most remarkable outcomes of the Montessori approach. This
development is aided by the key elements in the method. A sense
of ownership and responsibility develops toward the classroom
environment largely because the room and everything in it is theirs
and geared to their needs. The children feel a responsibility
toward each other. In such a classroom, the real education can
begin, for they have arrived at self-discipline and have thus achieved
freedom for their own self-development. This is the goal toward
which all Montessori philosophy and methods are aimed and in which Dr.
Montessori found such hope for all mankind.