The traditional education system represents the education as a relation only of two participants – the educator (the adult) and the student (the child). Dr. Montessori’s description of education, on the other hand, can be represented as a triangle where a very important role was given to the prepared environment. The environment is ordered, attractive, simple and beautiful. It offers sensorial exploration and “keys”, rich spoken and written language, individual and parallel work, exercises of practical life, individual and group presentations, materials that answer to sensitive periods, presence of culture, language follows experience (build from concrete to abstract). The environment is prepared in a way to promote independence, development of the will, and to allow for concentration. It meets the developmental needs of the child including human tendencies, unconscious powers, sensitive periods, process of adaptation, and development of the will. It also should protect freedoms and promote independence. The mixed- ages is a very important characteristic of the Montessori environment. The environment is not competitive- children collaborate and help one another which is a very important life skill. The outer environment has an important role, too. There should be a beautiful outdoor space for outdoor activities and gardening. A prepared environment leads to functional independence and acquisition of skills. Children become confident and we see competency- based self-esteem.
Freedom is very important in the Montessori environment. Children have the freedom to:
There are certain limitations corresponding to the freedoms:
a. the child can chose to work only with materials s/he has been shown and if uses them appropriately; the length of the activity is limited with the 3 hour work cycle; certain activities are done in special areas of the classroom, i.e. practical life activities are completed in the area with the tile floor and not on the carpet.
b. when the child hides behind the material by working in a frivolous way they will not accept presentations and extend to the next level;
c. children walk but not run in the classroom and are not allowed to walk on materials;
d. should not use disruptive loud voices
The prepared environment results in love for learning, strong academic foundation and ability to complete task. Children become keen observers and willing to take risks because there is no fear of making mistakes. Children have appreciation for Nature and other cultures and their senses are refined.