The Prepared Environment

The “prepared environment” offers the child work in Practical Life, Sensorial Exploration, mathematics, science, geography, writing, art, movement, dramatics, and music. Simultaneously, the child is guided in an especially important area known as “Grace and Courtesy” which consists of lessons in manners, leadership, and concrete methods of cooperation.

The various areas of the environment begin with concrete materials that start the thinking in each subject, and progress to more abstract materials that allow the child to experience the great “aha!” moments of understanding and appreciation for the mysteries of advanced thought.

Each child interacts with the curriculum areas according to his or her comfort and challenge level, progressing at his or her own rate. And all of this is laid on a foundation that begins the first day of school at age 3. Outwardly, the Children’s House Kindergarten level is distinguished only by the lengthened work period, called “Extended Day,” i.e. a full school day from 8:30 AM to 3 PM. But inwardly, pride, skill, mastery, and self-direction become a substantial part of the student’s experience of school at this level.

Reading takes shape into “research,” Math evolves into math facts, money games, calculator use, and recording the cubing and squaring works. In Geography, the child develops familiarity with the physical and cultural attributes of every continent on the earth, while in Science, he or she progresses to the study of zoology, botany, and the physical sciences.

Similar to the old-fashioned “one-room schoolhouse,” the children learn from each other, support each other, and work toward self-creation, under the gentle guidance of the Directress. To symbolize this, we use a triangle with each angle representing one of the following: the Student, the Directress, and the Environment. Each side of the triangle is just as important as the other two and lends toward a stable, democratic, environment that is authoritative rather than authoritarian. This is the very stuff of getting along in society itself.

Council Oak Montessori School