Myth: Unlike a traditional classroom, a Montessori classroom is unstructured and unorganized
A Montessori classroom is organized for children to explore and learn through activities on their own – collaboratively and individually with very minimal interventions from the adults in the classroom.
As trivial as it might seem, there is detailed attention paid to every part of a Montessori classroom. Predominantly a classroom is divided into five primary sections – Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, and Culture. In some classrooms, Culture may be incorporated as part of the Sensorial section. The materials in every section are organized in a left to right manner, easier materials on the left progressing to more complex materials on the right. This is an indirect preparation for reading from left to right. Every material belonging to a learning activity is child-sized, age-appropriate and complete with-in itself.
The concept of “complete within itself”: Every activity is set up with all the materials needed to complete that activity. For e.g., activities needing aprons have aprons of their own, as opposed to one apron being used for different activities. This helps the child to be able to access the material at any point in time without having to wait for an apron that is being used by another child.
A material is chosen for presentation by the directress, based on a child’s ability to handle the material properly and understand its underlying purpose. When at the table or the mat, the materials are set up in an organized manner from left to right. The presentation is slow and steady in order for the child to absorb the essence of the material. Sometimes, a material is re-presented to the child a few times for him/her to grasp the concept. No child is ever told or made to feel like he needs to have mastered a concept because he is of a certain age.
In short, a Montessori classroom is an enriched learning environment that sets up every child for success through independent learning, devoid of judgments from adults.