The Prepared Environment

“The child has a mind able to absorb knowledge. He has the power to teach himself.”

-Maria Montessori

Have you ever wondered, how a child begins to acquire language? Nobody sits a young child down and teaches them proper diction and syntax, but a child as young as 2 years old like Meimei speaks nouns, verbs, and adjectives in a sentence correctly. She absorbs it, without much effort at all. The same can be said for all the children from different parts of the world. They learn their own language effortlessly, with proper accents, diction, and syntaxes specific to their mother tongue.

With Montessori, the prepared environment plays a huge part in a child’s learning. Do you have what interests a child, and for the child to work independently? Is the child happy and content? What are some things that is developmentally appropriate for him? Is the environment beautiful to the eyes and inviting to the child?

I am not only talking about things on a shelf. A prepared environment is also where a child eats, plays, bathes, and sleeps. Is the home safe for your child? Are things accessible to him as needed?

A prepared environment does not mean a free-for-all environment where a child can do whatever he wants. A prepared environment has limits. If it is overwhelming, it wouldn’t work either. My tip is to start with the least number of materials and choices, and build from there.

Let’s take a quick run over of my girls’ morning. They are currently 2.5 and 4.5 years old. When they wake up, they have the freedom of being out of their bed on their own (Jiejie is on a full sized floor bed, and Meimei is on a toddler bed). The bathroom is accessible for them to pee, poop, brush their teeth, wash their hands/face on their own. There is a small potty, and a potty seat for the big toilet. There is a stool to reach the sink, and a faucet extender on the faucet.

They are able to open their dresser and choose their own outfits for the day, and get dressed.

On nights that I have stayed up late, I used to lay out some non-perishable breakfast on the table (breakfast bar/applesauce/cereal/fruit). Lately, both are old enough to find all these mentioned in the cupboard and fridge on their own. Meimei has learned how to make herself a hot breakfast too (That’ll be for another post).

I have also just recently added accessibility to their plates, bowls, and utensils on top of their cleaning shelf. If something spilled, the cleaning shelf has old burp cloths that we now use as rags. They’re extremely soft and absorbent, and perfect for cleaning up! A spray bottle of diluted vinegar mix is also available for them to use. A basket below it is where they put used rags. I empty it when it’s full. After they have eaten their breakfast, they put their bowls in the sink.

All these aren’t just prerequisites to our day. They have been learning – it is practical life. They are learning to be independent. They are learning self-care, care for others, and the environment (home). They are learning grace and courtesy (OK, me included!) as we move about getting our day started.

You might wonder where I am in this morning scenario. As they are still toddlers/preschoolers, I’m probably the same as you, assisting where help is needed, also stepping back when help is not needed (oh they will let you know when you’re not needed, don’t worry! 😑).

Following the child does not mean letting them be however they want to be. The adult is still there, filling in the gaps until a child is able to do things he thinks he is able to do.

Having a prepared home environment means the child is able to help himself, and through it, he gains confidence, and his dignity increases. He is not in the home as a guest who doesn’t know where things are; he is an important member of the family!

If you don’t know how to begin preparing your environment, start by going down low onto the floor at your child’s level and see it from their point of view. Slight changes could mean a lot!

That’s it for today! If you have further questions, feel free to message me on Instagram (@angeltots147), or comment below. Thank you for visiting. I hope to see you again next time!

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4 thoughts on “The Prepared Environment

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  1. Yes! I was asked last night how my children (10-17)…because we gave them as much freedom as they can responsibly use. The eldest is backpacking Mexico. And except for the ten year old, they all have jobs and have had them young. This all serves their healthy futures!

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