The Prepared Environment: Shangri-La?

Biff Maier, Director of Faculty and Curriculum Development

What if you worked in a place designed to maximize your creativity and productivity? Imagine an optimally designed bakery, bioscience lab, auto repair shop, or consulting firm. Design elements greatly impact our work.

The same is true of your child’s workplace, the LMS classroom. Montessori said, "The teacher must continuously think about this environment, because a large part of the result depends on it.” You have noticed Lexington Montessori School’s beautiful, inviting, and thoughtfully arranged classrooms, with handcrafted learning materials displayed on accessible shelves - everything where it is supposed to be.
LMS’ prepared environments are physical representations of six elements of the LMS teachers’ Montessori pedagogy.

  1. Freedom: In order for children to develop the greatest freedom, freedom of choice, they must have freedom to move around, freedom to explore, freedom to interact socially, and freedom to engage in activities without unwanted interference. The design and flow of our Montessori classrooms create a learning environment that accommodates choice.
  2. Structure and Order: LMS classrooms provide children with microcosms of the universe, where they internalize order and make sense of the world. We change routines and procedures cautiously, watching to be sure that the benefit to children warrants the disruption.
  3. Beauty: LMS classroom environments are beautiful, uncluttered and well maintained, reflecting peace and tranquility. They invite the learners to come in and work.
  4. Nature and Reality: At LMS, we believe that nature inspires children. We take children out into nature, and we bring nature into the classroom. We provide outdoor tools sized to fit children’s hands and height. We prefer using objects made with natural materials.
  5. Social Environment: LMS classrooms are not merely places for individual learning. They are vibrant, collaborative communities. The classroom design and the multi-age groupings insure social interaction so children learn compassion and empathy for others.
  6. Intellectual Environment: LMS environments are designed to develop the whole personality of the child. While teachers pay abundant attention to physical and social-emotional learning, the medium for much of a child’s growth is our carefully balanced curriculum. Lessons and activities are frequently interdisciplinary, and sequences of work are thoughtfully prepared so that learners can succeed at a pace that is appropriate for them.
Aren’t you glad your child gets to work in an environment designed to help bring out his or her very best. Don’t you wish everybody did?
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