Aidan's mission is to create and sustain an optimum Montessori educational environment to enable each child to realize his or her richest potential for learning and to become an independent, self-motivated, and contributing member of the world community.
Montessori in the prepared environment
The prepared environment (also known as the classroom) plays a big role in supporting Aidan's Mission Statement for each child and family. The space contains special materials which were specifically designed with the child's development in mind. All aspects of development are considered when setting up the prepared environment: intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual. Every piece of material invites the child to a purposeful activity. The work that the child chooses matches their age and capability. They are attracted to the activity and work with the items. From the introduction of the lesson by the teacher (or another child), to the repetition of movement and work with the material, it is the process and sequence that is so important to the child. Maria Montessori observed that children were refreshed and rejuvenated through work that brought them great pleasure and joy.
Additionally, a prepared adult is essential to make it all work and flow together. Their role in this prepared environment is to create a place that reflects the children's culture, and also upholds order, beauty, and cleanliness. The guide (also known as the teacher) plans and maintains the environment, observes and presents lessons to the children, establishes guidelines for living in community and protects the freedom and the rights of each child. They observe the group as a whole and the individual child so they can respond appropriately to best support the child's overall needs.
Teachers occupy just as important a place in a class as a child's parent does at home, and children turn naturally to them for help. The relationship that develops is less personal than the mother-child relationship, but a positive tie between teacher and child is the only satisfactory basis for education. For this reason Montessori called education a technique of love. Maria Montessori, Education for Human Development
Exploring Montessori at Home
How can you support your child to be independent and successful at home? How should you prepare your home environment?
You are the link to your child and to the world as you help them construct themselves. You are assisting them while they are learning to be part of their family. Your child wants to feel part of your community at home too! In order for children to feel a connection with their environment, it needs to be ready and prepared for them. It does not mean you need, nor should you have, all the Montessori materials or 28 children at home. Imagine!
It can be as simple as offering a small pitcher with water and a glass cup at a reachable height. Add some towels "just in case" there are any spills. Perhaps a basket with a few fresh fruits that are again, accessible to the child. This simple set-up will empower your child to listen to their bodies and help their independence.
Additionally, it will be reinforcing what they already do at school. Any adult at home, including grandparents and caregivers, must also be accessible to the child. What does that mean? Well, when talking to a child, the adult should lower their bodies to make and have direct eye contact, an important non-verbal gesture of respect towards the child. Also, this reassures the child that you respect their thoughts and who they are. While talking with your child, be sure to acknowledge their feelings. For example, if your child's facial expression is sad, you may say, "I can see that you are sad." Though this may seem obvious to us as adults, these simple statements have a tremendous influence on deepening your relationship and trust with your child.
Lastly, consistency is key! Whatever or however you decide to do something at home – be consistent! Keep in mind that your child is watching your movements, your words, your interactions with others, and is simply taking it all in without filters. So be the best role model you can be! Be the change you hope to see.
The child is like a bee flying from flower to flower, without finding one on which to stop, from which it can take the nectar and be satisfied. He will not be able to work till he feels the awakening within him of that tremendous instinctive which is destined to construct his character and his mind. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind