Last month I started my Montessori Moments posts and shared about the Absorbent Mind. This month the director of Lennox’s school was talking about the classroom learning environment. When you go into a lot of childcare facilities, its full of popular toys, bright colors, yet still organized and super fun! It’s a welcoming environment for children. The Montessori classroom is different, yet still a very welcoming and fun environment for children. You will however, see a lack of plastic toys, you won’t find Fisher-Price, Little Tykes, etc… Although many of those toys are great toys (and we have about 1,343,248,930 of them at home), they don’t go along with the Montessori way.
“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experience.” – Maria Montessori
The Montessori environment is flooded with natural light, plants, toddler size furniture (such as shelves, table, chair, sink, etc) mostly made of natural woods. Although there is plenty of colorful objects, the room has a natural feeling, light and airy. Lennox’s room has one full wall of floor to ceiling windows, which show off the large grassy yard and gardens. Each class has their own garden, which in the spring/summer the kids go out and take care of daily. I’ll share more on this soon, as gardening day is coming up!
Her classroom has furniture all at her levels, paintings on the walls and classical music playing in the halls and lobby. It is a peaceful environment, yet laughter still fills the air, as well as the toddler tantrums of course! That was one thing we really noticed when touring this school. All the kids were happy and content. You rarely heard a cry or tantrum. The kids were all busily working and enjoying themselves.
Lennox is in her class with 18 month – 3 year olds. The younger children benefit from learning from the older children. Lennox really liked this when she started. She has always liked to be around older children, rather than younger or even same age children!
In the classroom, you will find lots of different stations with what they call “works”. All the “works” have a practical purpose. From pouring water between containers, to zipping a zipper, tieing a shoe, brushing hair, a puzzle, cutting paper, etc. All the works are focusing on the practical skills and follow an order of simple to more complex. Each work has a tray or bin, and everything they need to complete the task is within that container. They have to put it away before they can start another. It is fun to watch all the kids playing in an order and how they put everything away perfectly. When I pick up Lennox, she will be so excited to see me, but she will run to put all her stuff away as quickly as possible so she can get over to me. If only she would do this at home!
“The child can develop fully by means of experience in his environment. We call such experiences ‘work’.” – Maria Montessori
So, the end result? Lennox gets the best of both worlds. AT home she gets the traditional kid toys, that are fun and popular Then at school she gets to do more practical work. I think its a nice balance. Many Montessori parents will carry this type of toy over to the home. Honestly, It would be great to do more Montessori activities at home, but I just don’t find the time to get it all organized when I have to work full-time. By the time I get home with Lennox in the evening, I just want to be with her. She has a fun room of toys and that works out good enough for us!!