Our classroom is a "living room" for children. Children choose their activities from open shelves with self correcting materials and work in distinct work areas - on tables or on rugs on the floor. Over a period of time children develop into a 'normalized community' working with high concentration and few interruptions. The classroom environment includes five distinct components discussed further below.
Our classroom also has an elliptical line on the floor. This can be used for individual activities but is also the place where the class meets as a whole. We usually have two class meetings each day. One will serve as an early morning meeting and precede a more individualized work period, and another will serve as our group time preceding the final activity. The group meetings are used for presentations of materials, discussions of particular topics, also music activities and games.
The Learning Method
The Montessori learning environment is much different than the traditional model. Instead of information passing from the teacher to the student, the teacher is trained to put the child in touch with the environment, and help him/her learn to make intelligent choices. The teacher then protects the student's concentration from interruption. This fosters a love of lifetime learning in the student. Small groups of learning tend to form spontaneously, for example as the teacher works with a child or two with particular materials, others may ask to join in.
Keep in mind a triangle: the student, the teacher, and the environment. It is the role of the teacher to prepare, and continue to prepare, the environment, to link the child to it through well-thought-out introductions to books and materials, projects, and lessons, which nurture the child's exploration and creativity. Children thus taught often excel, and then they learn to find answers for themselves.
The Prepared Environment
Five distinct areas constitute our "prepared environment". These areas all help cultivate children's adaptation and ability to express and think with clarity: