Inside a Montessori Classroom
When visitors step inside a Montessori classroom, they are often struck by how different it is from what they expected. One might expect a raucous, chaotic scene, where every child is doing something different (all at the same time). Or perhaps there is question as to how the children learn if they get to choose whatever they want to do all day long.
Time and time again, prospective families emerge from a classroom observation with a completely different perspective. Here are just a few of the differences that they witness.
Deep concentration and intense focus are the direct result of a Montessori environment. By providing a prepared environment that allows children to engage independently in age-appropriate multi-sensory work, children develop concentrated interest and the satisfaction that comes from the full absorption of the mind. We observe that the child’s natural tendency is to become fully absorbed, and that adult often tend to overly interrupt and rush children. We provide the space and time for the deep absorption that is natural to children, strengthening their awareness of self and love of learning.
The integration of mind and body is ever-present in a Montessori classroom. Children are free to move around the classroom on their own initiative, exercising their gross motor capacities as needed, while the precise and mindful use of Montessori materials exercise the children’s fine-motor capacities. Absence of movement is also practiced, playing the silence game, actively listening to music, or simply being engaged in work. Children feel a sense of peace and joy at this culmination of exercises that help develop complete control over one’s body.
In a Montessori classroom, children are engaged in purposeful work with real tools. Tasks such as preparing snack, caring for plants, or sanding a wooden chair require child-sized glassware and utensils, gardening gloves, and sandpaper. By providing the necessary tools and instructions, children are no longer excluded from participation in activities that were once seen as adult work. This ability to contribute in a real way to the world resonates deeply with children. They feel an authentic sense of importance and purpose, whether it be from setting the lunch table, creating flower arrangements for the classroom, scrubbing the table after painting, or pruning a plant to allow for new growth.
Simplicity and Beauty
The Montessori classroom is one of beauty and simplicity. Beautifully designed and simply ordered materials are placed on uncluttered, open shelves. Usually, there is only one of each material, and only the necessary materials are available with each exercise. Nature is ever-present in the classroom, with large, hand-crafted planters carrying plants to resemble an indoor forest. The external order and beauty of the classroom inspires internal order and beauty in the child.