Each child has within her a drive to learn. If the classroom and the teacher are well prepared the child is free to choose and learn. Montessori wrote about each child having an “inner guide”. What she meant was that natural child development pushes the child to want to master certain things at certain times. All children strive for independence. All children want to master academic concepts, such as number and quantity and language. All children are driven by curiosity about the world. Each child is an individual and is encouraged or hampered by her individual circumstances. It is the role of the school to give her a place that is entirely hers. It is set up to fulfil her developmental needs and provide her with encouragement and space to grow according to her potential.
The teacher in our classroom is often found sitting on the floor working with a child or a small group of children as most of our material is floor based. The teacher is responsible for presenting the material to every child once. Later, the child can freely choose it unaided. The teacher is also responsible for making sure the material is in good condition and complete. The teacher knows all the material available in the classroom and is ready to present it to the child at any time. She makes subtle changes to the classroom based on her observation and makes sure the ground rules are kept and directs children to new work after they’ve mastered the old.
The environment is the school in its entirety, inside and outside. It also encompasses social contact with other children and the rules of the school. The ‘work material’ on the shelves is set out in a way in which every child can see and access it. The classroom is the child’s space. This means that in return each child is responsible for the classroom as well as the material in it. This is the only way children learn to master their environment. By assuming responsibility they grow in confidence and self-esteem.The important characteristics of a Montessori Environment are
- Accessibility, beauty, order, simplicity and reality.
- Freedom to move around within few guidelines that enable them to work either individually or in a group.
- Specifically designed materials with built-in control of error and which aid in the most natural development of the child both cognitively as well as socially.