WHAT IS THE PREPARED ENVIRONMENT?
In a Montessori setting, the Prepared Environment is one of the most important factors for growth, allowing the child much needed space to grow and develop. It provides mental nourishment and physical stimulation in response to the child’s inner needs.
The Prepared Environment is a natural sanctuary for the child, a place for development, free of obstacles. It’s a space in which children experience intellectual, social, and spiritual stimulation. In response, they feel a sense of inner satisfaction and joy.
Learning is based on interest and sought by a discovery process. Children respect the environment and grow a love for it and for each other.
This space is full of stimulating materials, beginning with general and concrete concepts, and leading to abstract ideas. It’s like a key which can unlock the door of discovery for the child. Maria Montessori said, “A child is passing through a period of self-realization, and it is enough simply to open up the door for him”. What a powerful key we possess!
In reflection of the Prepared Environment as a response to the inner needs of the child, I am reminded of a poem by Naomi Long Madgett:
Woman with Flower
I wouldn’t coax the plant if I were you.
Such watchful nurturing may do it harm.
Let the soil rest from so much digging.
And wait until it’s dry before you water it.
The leaf’s inclined to find its own direction.
Give it a chance to seek the sunlight for itself.
Much growth is stunted by too careful prodding,
Too eager tenderness.
The things we love we have to learn to leave alone.