SYLLABUS OF MONTESSORI THEORY & METHODS UNIT 2 PREPARED ENVIRONMENT DAY 4 – 6

Pre Home Assignments

Learning Activity 1: Meditation on the Passage (as home assignment): Students should read the passages in this unit minimum 3 times. After reading each paragraph, close the eyes & think about the paragraph content for few minutes. All students should do all preparations and practices with fullest effort for the live class session too.
All students should do all preparations and practices with fullest effort for the live class session too.

Learning Activity 2: Lyrics and Music: All students prepare their own lyrics and give music about the prepared environment in Montessori class in 12 to 16 lines.

Learning Activities for Live Class Session:

Learning Activity 1: Pair Talk: Two pupils sit face to face and talk regarding the environment of the school they studied & its specialties. Then change the pair and continue talking.

Learning Activity 2: Group Discussion: Arrange a Group discussion about “The Montessori Directress is primarily an active observer” by forming trainees into 5 or 6 members group. One student can be the moderator of the Program.

Learning Activity 3: TV Shoot & Interview: Divide trainees into 7 or 8 members group and conduct an Imaginary TV shoot & Interview in a Montessori House of Children by assigning roles like, anchor, principal, Montessori directress, student, parent etc. They are asking and telling about the specialties of Montessori Prepared Environment.

Learning Activity 4: Seminar Essay Preparation & Presentation: All trainees should bring seminar essays, in English not more than 2 A4 pages, and read at the forum. All trainees should participate in the discussion about the essay. Subject: Prepared Environment in Montessori House of Children and its benefits.

Learning Activity 5: Pair Discussion: Two pupils sit face to face and talk about the changes to be made in the present school, class environment and infrastructure based on the current requirements in education field.

Learning Activity 6: Imaginary Activity practice/ Visualization with closed eyes: Sub: Prepared Environment in Montessori House of Children by using all five imaginary senses.

Learning Activity 7: Group Discussion: Arrange a Group Discussion like in TV. All students are participating in the discussion.
Round 1: Purpose and objectives of learning and practicing the content in this theory unit
Round 2: How to apply the knowledge and the ideas in this unit in your life, career and in society.

Learning Activity 8: Musical Eve: All students present their own lyrics and music about the prepared environment in Montessori class, in 12 to 16 lines. One student anchor the eve.

Learning Activity 9: Learning activity as per students’ choice. Conduct a learning activity as per the choice of lesson activities coordinating group.

Self-Home Assignments & with classmates:

Learning Activity 1: Self Speech in front of Mirror: About Prepared Environment in a Montessori School. Talk about it in 5-10 minutes.
Learning Activity 2: Pair Talk: Two pupils sit face to face and talk regarding the environment of the school they studied & its specialties. Faculty prepare the list & put it in the group.
Learning Activity 3: Pair Talk: Two pupils sit face to face and talk regarding the role of a Directress in A Montessori School. Faculty prepare the list & put it in the group.

Individual & pair learning activities as Post Home Assignments:

Learning Activity 1: Observe through Internet: See the different images of Montessori Prepared Environment in Montessori House of Children through Internet.

Learning Activity 2: Comparative study: Make a comparative study regarding the Environment in a Montessori school and in a Non- Montessori School and write about it in your own words in 2 A4 pages in your Theory Assignment Book.

Learning Activity 3: Make List: Make a list of things needed in a Montessori Prepared Environment and write that in your Theory Assignment Book.

Learning Activity 4: Prepare an attractive leaflet for promotion and admission for a new Montessori school by including the features like learning environment, specialties & infrastructure facilities in of that school in your Theory Assignment Book.

Learning Activity 5: as House Assignment: Drawing & Painting:
As per the Prepared Environment described in this unit, make drawing or painting of Montessori House of Children in your Theory Assignment Book.

Introduction

Dr. Maria Montessori in her ‘Hand book” published in 1914 described the perfect room for children wherein they can learn well. Almost all the ideas mentioned in the Hand book are seen in practice in modern Montessori Schools. This shows that Maria who was born in the 19th century, who lived and developed new and exciting method of teaching and learning in the 20th century, is very alive in 21st century.
She wrote in her ‘Hand book’ “A Children’s House ought to be real house; that is to say a set of rooms with a garden of which the children are the masters. A Garden which contains shelters is ideal, because the children can play or sleep under them, and can also bring their tables out to work or dine. In this way they may live almost entirely in the open air, and are protected at the same time from Rain & Sun”.
The very many functions of a specially prepared environment towards the development of the child are great and very significant. The Montessori school with all the teachings– learning materials, rooms, surroundings & Directress joined together is called the specially prepared environment. It is designed and created exclusively in favour of the child working at his development. It provides a place where he can perform activities which he desires to do in an exclusive and conducive atmosphere so that the level of achievement can be better in quality and quantity. The outer part of the environment gives scope for activities with an accent on the performance and control of large physical movement. The outdoor space can also provide animals and birds if possible. All the decorative and utilitarian materials are arranged in such a way to help individual, independent and controlled movements. If there is an intermediate area of space, a transition into a quieter area could be achieved better.
The specially prepared environment helps the child to develop a sense of orientation, sense of security, further development and perfection of the co-ordination of movements and even the integration of the personality. All the furniture should be light for children to carry. They should be child -size and brightly painted. Not only wooden chairs but also small wicker armchairs and sofas should be included. In the main room there must be long, low Cupboard for keeping the learning materials. The low Shelves and Cupboards are Maria’s earliest discoveries at the ‘Casa dei Bambini’ when she found children wanted to put back the materials themselves, not the Teacher. It showed children’s instinctive desire for order and tidiness. There can be two or three black Boards. They should be fixed low enough on the walls for children to use. They must be made attractive with pictures, plants and flowers. Mats or Rugs should be spread on the floor to sit.
The child finds his home environment suitable and sufficient immediately after birth, but as he grows and is around two and half years old, he experiences a different need. Now it is time for him to have an exclusive environment wherein he can find all that he is in urgent need of, so that he can grow as a human being the society he has taken birth in and this third environment – the prepared environment. The first environment is being the home, the second being the society he has taken birth in and this third environment has been specially designed and prepared for the child. The prepared environment should be structured according to the Montessori principles for the 3 to 6 age group and is known as the ‘House of children’ or ‘Children’s House’. The House of Children allows a child to work at his development following the impulses according to the sensitive periods. For this it should satisfy the following requirements:

SCOPE TO WORK:

Scope to work basically means that there should be enough space for every child to perform developmental activities. The area should be such that the child could move around freely and select his place of work for every activity he chooses to perform. It should provide space for collective presentations or activities or activities when all the children have to participate. Apart from providing enough work space, the prepared environment must have space for special work which needs the fulfilment of certain specifications – eg: a quiet secluded place for book corner, space for music corner – undisturbed by the other acoustic impressions.
A noisy activity like pounding flour or hammering needs to be done at a place where other children are not bothered by it.
The prepared environment should have an outer and inner environment with a passage or verandah connecting them. The outer environment must be made beautiful by having a garden with flowers and vegetables, if possible. There could be wrought iron chairs according to physical portion of the child. There can be pathways, a narrow one, on which the child can walk balancing his body. Apart from this, there can also be balance beams, circular steps, see-saw, slid swing wherein the children can have some physical exercises. It can also have small animals like Rabbits, Birds, and Tortoises.
Besides providing the scope for physical movement, the outer part also fulfils a decorative purpose that is to help the child appreciate and understand the beauty of the nature. It should also stimulate the intellect with sample of plant, animal and bird life; help the child to learn the importance of ecology, morphology, evolution and use of plant life etc. Thus the outdoor environment becomes a place for learning. Verandah or passage is the link between the outer and inner environment which serves the ideal purpose of preparing the child mentally and physically for activities indoors and outdoors as the case may be. A mirror can be placed here so that the children may have a look at themselves. The child may need to change clothes or footwear when he comes or goes out. He may need to clean up himself before entering the inner environment from the garden, for which the verandah is large enough, group activities like silence activities, walking on a line can also be done there. Thus the connecting space assists the transformation into a quieter and calmer area after outdoor activities involving large and fast movements.
The inner environment should provide enough space for all the corners as mentioned in the beginning – Music corner, Book corner, Science corner etc. A Bed and Mattress can be placed in a corner to enable the child sleep if feels sick. This inner part stores the materials – materials for exercises of Practical life, Sensorial, Language, Arithmetic, Geography, Botany, Zoology, etc. which develop the mental and intellectual aspects along with motor coordination in a quieter atmosphere.

2. EQUIPMENTS

The materials in the Prepared Environment include the furniture and other facilities available to the children to make it their own space. All the equipment are for individual use and encourage each child to continue sensorial exploration of the real world.
These materials are scientifically prepared and developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in accordance of her principles and form one of the three important agents in education of the child. They make possible independent movement, physical and mental, aiming at purposeful activity and development. The materials should be made available to the child to work at in answer to the need felt by the child at any particular moment. Therefore they are displayed within the reach of the hands and eyes of the child. These are prepared according to the physical proportionate which determines whether the child can handle them physically and therefore purposefully, physical proportionate which refers to the intelligence.
Whether the materials are made available in single sets or multiple sets are determined by the need of the children and nature of the activity. The materials are attractive by themselves. But functional decorations attract the will and help the child to choose. They stir the child to developmental activity and because of their functional character also give direction to purposeful handling and hence, if necessary they may be rendered more beautiful by decorations that have to be functional. While organizing the materials in the environment, the directress needs to pay attention to the order. There is a place for every item of equipment and each one should be in its place.
The creation and by maintenance of order is crucial. This is true not only with regard to spatial order but also to the development order as far as possible the materials belonging to different development activities are arranged in succession in which the child needs to perform. The totality of the environment has to be kept in mind while maintaining the order so that the environment can deserve the name of ‘House of Children’.

3. MAINTENANCE

Maintenance refers to a continuous activity on the part of the adult who has at all times to be vigilant that the tools be kept clean, intact, complete and be always in the condition in which it should see. In other words, the materials have to be displayed in scrupulous and fixed order, according to the rule: “Everything in its proper place and a proper place for everything”.
The prepared Environment has to be maintained in this state of preparedness continually. The cleanness and order require constant care. Therefore, cleaning, repairing, and replacing broken parts remain a duty of the adult. Anything requiring to be done in this sense has to be done at once. If it should be impossible to do so at once, the dirty, damaged or incomplete tools should be removed from the environment until they have been restored to their proper condition, as dirty, damaged or incomplete material repels.
When there are several items in one set, the internal order is also to be maintained, for eg: The Pink Tower is displayed as a tower made of ten cubes. The materials need replenishment, some daily, some weekly, some monthly and some occasionally. Some materials like pencils need attention constantly. Even the areas like bathrooms, washing places, which children need to use everyday demand scrupulous care of the adults in the Children’s house. The never ending task of maintenance takes a lot of energy and attention on the part of the Directress and the Assistants. The Montessori Directress would also be responsible for repairing and replacing materials as and when the need arrives. This duty is of great importance as it decides whether the child’s will is free to move towards the activity.

4. THE DIRECTRESS

The life that a Child lives in the third environment i.e., the House of Children will be in tune with the style of living and culture of the people in the neighborhood. It is an extension of the home environment where the atmosphere of love, belonging and the freedom is created by the Directress. The directress provides link between the child and the prepared environment, introducing the child to each piece of equipment when he or she is ready in a precise, clear and enticing way. On a broader level the Directress provides a link between the Classroom and Parent, meeting with each child’s Parents to discuss the progress. She needs to be calm, consistent, courteous and caring. The most important attribute of a Directress is the love and respect she holds for each child’s total being. She creates the chemistry of a colorful relationship of togetherness.
The Montessori Directress is primarily an active observer of the classroom providing direction and guidance to each child on an individual basis. The role of the Directress in the classroom is manifold. Her most important job is to foster a kind of learning that satisfies the child’s need to learn for its own sake, not to please others or receive praise. She is trained to observe carefully, to know the different needs of her children and to provide a properly prepared environment for the children’s maximum growth. She has to ensure that each child progress through the activities of each curriculum area in the classroom. She is there when needed, but invisible when not needed. In other words she should follow the child.

Edited & his Methodology applied by: Baba Alexander, New Delhi

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