A ‘living room’ for children
The Montessori pre-school classroom is a ‘living room’ for children, a place in which they should feel at home and secure. Children choose their activities from among the self-correcting materials displayed on open shelves that allow the children to learn through all five senses.
Provide children with an early and general foundation
The preschool environment unifies the psychosocial, physical and academic functioning of the child. Its most important task is to provide children with an early and general foundation that will enable them to acquire more specialised knowledge and skills throughout their school career. This foundation includes a positive attitude toward school; an inner security and a sense of order and pride in the physical environment; abiding curiosity; a habit of concentration; habits of initiative and persistence; the ability to make decisions; self-discipline; and a sense of responsibility towards other members of the class, school, and community.
The child develops a ‘friendly feeling’ towards error
The materials themselves invite activity. There are bright arrays of solid geometric forms, knobbed puzzle maps, coloured beads, and various specialised rods and blocks. All the materials in a Montessori environment are designed, for the child to be as independent as possible and everything, including a dustpan and brush, is child sized. The activities are laid out in an orderly way on easy accessible open shelves and the design of the materials makes it easy for the child to identify, and gradually correct, any error. This last point eliminates the need for correction by a teacher, a feature that has become a mainstay of traditional education. Instead of having an external force judging him, the child relies on the impersonal judgement that comes from his senses. The guidance the material itself offers may be mechanical (all the pieces fit together only one way), it may be visual (the eye checking groups of objects sorted by touch), or there may be an answer sheet. In any event, the more a child relies on its own judgement, the more it develops a ‘friendly feeling’ towards error and that is the best way to self-improvement.