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How to Create a Montessori Prepared Environment for Toddlers, Preschool & Kindergarten at home.


The first undertaking of a Montessori teacher is to set up her classroom. In Montessori the classroom is called the Prepared Environment. Parents can also create a Prepared Environment at home. A Prepared Environment not only includes the physical materials, it also encompasses the atmosphere and the rules that govern the environment (home or school).

Preparing the Environment

In the home or school for the child of this age, much attention must be paid to the safety of the environment. It is a recognized fact that the child will develop more fully; mentally, emotionally, and physically when she is free to move and explore in an ever-enlarging environment instead of being kept in a crib, playpen, swing, or walker. The exploration of the environment is vital.

From birth on, when a child is free to leave his bed and to move about his room, and later the other rooms – careful attention must be paid to assuring safety: covering plugs, taping wires to the wall or floor, removing poisonous plants and chemicals.

A 2-foot gate, which can be stepped over by the adult, creates safe and interesting spaces for the child through the house. When the child is capable of exploring outside his room, the gate can be used to protect the child from unsafe rooms, the home office, the kitchen, or any other place that is not yet child- proofed.

The easiest time to prepare the environment is before birth, the parents crawling around the child‟s room to see what the child can reach or will be attracted to and then to make it safe. As the child‟s environment becomes larger, encompassing other rooms of the house, and as she begins to crawl quickly and to walk, the adults must continue to childproof the house.

During the first three years the child will absorb, like a sponge, whatever is in the environment, ugliness or beauty, course behavior or gentleness, good or bad language. As parents, we are the first models of what it means to be human. If our children are in a childcare setting or an infant community, we must exact the same high standards.

Quality and beauty of the environment and the books and materials is very important in attracting, satisfying, and keeping the attention of the child. If the child is exposed to beautiful rattles and toys, she will help create a world with the same high standards as an adult. Toys, rattles, puzzles, tables, and chairs made of wood instead of plastic develop an appreciation for nature and quality and show a respect for the child.

Pictures on the wall, hung at the eye-level of the child, can be beautiful framed art prints or simple posters. Rather than ugly cartoons, that adults assume are preferred by children, we see that children are drawn instead to the great art, which has stood the test of time. Children also enjoy seeing their own artwork framed and displayed on the wall. The children‟s pictures can be changed frequently, as they create new artwork.

Rather than keeping things in large toy boxes, it is more satisfying to the child to keep them neatly on shelves, hung on hooks, sorted on trays, and separated into baskets. This also makes putting things away much more logical and enjoyable. It is possible to put shelves in the child‟s room, family room, and wherever else the child may play, before the child is born. Parents can begin immediately to keep the child‟s things on shelves and continually set the example of putting toys away where they belong when they are not being used.

Here are some things to keep in mind when organizing a child’s environment:

Have a place in each room–the bedroom, the kitchen, dining room, living room, bathroom, garage, and so forth – for the child‟s few, carefully chosen belongings.

Think carefully about family activities and the materials used, in all areas of the home, and arrange the environment to include the child.

By the front door, have a stool to sit on and a place within reach to hang coats and put shoes. In the living room, have shelves for organizing a few of the child‟s books, toys, puzzles, or games.

Don’t put out too many items at one time. A few baskets or trays holding tools or toys that are being used at the moment are sufficient. Don‟t put too many items in each basket. IF a child has 100 legos, that is too many for him to manage. Start out with 10 or 15 in the basket. This way he can learn how to completely put away the legos. As he wants more legos with which to build, more, legos can be added to the basket. He gradually learns how to manage more and more legos.

It is a good idea to rotate books and toys – taking out those that have not been chosen lately and removing them to storage for a time. A monthly rotation works well. An older child can help with this. This is done after observing what the child is actually using, and removing those things which are being ignored, or which have been outgrown. Be sure to leave the favorites!


Shelves are an important component of the child‟s environment. Shelves do not have to be expensive; they can be as simple as boards and bricks. They can also be as elegant as any other furniture in the home. It is wonderful when a family can afford a child-sized bookcase in each room of the house for the child‟s belongings.

Solid wood tables and stools, which allow the child to sit up straight with the feet flat on the floor for drawing, playing, fixing, and eating snacks are very important. Not only will good posture be developed, but also she will be better able to concentrate and focus in this position.

Small solid wood benches, useful next to the front door for removing shoes, in the bathroom for removing pants and reaching the sink, in the kitchen for reaching the sink are very important for the child‟s work and independence.

A low bed is preferred so she can easily climb in and out of it. A comforter makes it easy for the child to make her bed.

The Environment and the Mind

All adults are influenced by their first environment and nothing can help create beauty in the world as much as giving beauty and quality to the very young.

We must not only think of the quality, but the quantity. Visible posters, pictures, toys, etc. always affect the mind. It has been shown over and over in children‟s environments that cluttered shelves, which are visually blocked out by the adult, are a constant visual barrage for the young child, causing stress. Too many pictures and posters on the wall do the same. The Chinese art of placement, Feng Shui, teaches that clutter, even hidden under a bed or piled on top of bookcases can cause stress.

The same hold true for the sounds in the environment. With time the adult brain learns to block out the sound of a TV or radio, but a child is always aware of it. Sometimes a child can become upset by visual and auditory stimulus of which the adult is completely unaware!

Preparing the environment before birth frees parents to devote time to be with and enjoy their child after birth. A neat, attractive, enjoyable, organized, and unclutter