Areas of the Prepared Environment
In Montessori education, we often refer to the triad that supports development: the child, the adult, and the environment. The child is the driver of the education urged by their Horme - the impulse inside them to interact with their environment to gain knowledge.
The adult, or guide of the Montessori Prepared Environment, acts as the bridge between the child's urge to learn and the materials that are provided in the space. The adult's main duty is to observe the child, watching for activities they show interest in and developments in their motor development, cognition, and social/emotional emergence.
Through this observation, the adult gives a lesson to the child with a material that will meet the development they are exhibiting. It is the child's interaction with the material that aids in education, an experience that provides new information or reinforces something they have encountered.
The main areas that are provided to toddlers in the Montessori environment are typically:
Psycho-Sensory Motor (fine and gross motor activities)
The Practical Life materials are various activities that the child can do that give them opportunities to take care of themselves and their environment. Activities may include zipping frame, combing hair, sweeping, flower arranging, and many more.
Food preparation activities provide young children the opportunity to gain functional independence in preparing food for themselves. Activities might include pouring water, cutting a banana, and preparing and eating a meal.
The Psycho-Sensory Motor activities provide opportunities for toddlers to acquire and refine their gross and fine motor movements. Activities are generally colorful to draw the attention of the child and may switch up the appearance of the activity while still providing an opportunity to master the same skill, keeping interest high for repetition. Some activities include boxes with balls, puzzles, sorting, stringing, and many more.
The children are immersed in language activities throughout the day. Along with activities on the shelves, including real objects, replicas, and matching, the adult's interactions with the children are a key ingredient to language acquisition and refinement. The explanation of what we are doing and naming the parts of all the activities we use and how we communicate with each other are all components of language in the Prepared Environment.
Art and Music
The focus of art in the toddler Prepared Environment is the process. The children are able to interact with various mediums such as, crayons, chalk, glue, clay, and pastels, which give the foundation of how to work with different materials and what properties they have. Along with the experience of trying these different tools for expression, the children are also developing the gross and fine motor movements that will later aid them in writing.
Music is a way for us to joyfully communicate and form community. There is always an instrument out to explore, along with group times to sing together, play instruments together, and dance together.
Learning to use the toilet independently is another important part of the child's independence. Many children develop an interest through observing other children. When children are showing signs of readiness, we work closely with the child and family to support the child with a stress-free approach.