Montessori Environments

Written by Tara Peris
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Montessori environments differ from traditional classroom settings considerably. In order to truly appreciate the differences, however, one must understand the rationale behind this alternative approach to education. With philosophical understanding in place, it becomes much easier to make sense of what one observes in the typical Montessori classroom.

For most of us, classrooms conjure images of our own time spent idly, passing the days away at the desk or chalkboard. We had no computer workstations, no interactive technology programs, and in many cases, no fancy whiteboard. Needless to say, the classroom environment has changed a great deal, and it is hard to evaluate what one sees these days.

What to Expect from Montessori Environments

Most parents enter classrooms expecting to see some version of what they themselves once had. They scan the room, looking for neatly lined desks, organized workstations, and a posting of the daily work schedule. For parents expecting this layout, Montessori environments may at first seem like pure chaos.

Consistent with the philosophical emphasis on experiential learning, Montessori environments are notoriously unstructured. There are activity centers galore, each stocked with rich, hands-on learning tasks, but children are allowed to explore at their own pace. Thus, they become active learners, and what one observes upon entering the classroom is a sea of little bodies scurrying from one station to the next, eager to take on new learning exercises.

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