The Prepared Environment

Article by Children's House Directress Lizz Loder


"Education is not something which a teacher does, but it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in human beings. The first thing a child's education demands is the provision of an environment in which he can develop the powers given him by nature." ~Maria Montessori

In the weeks immediately preceding the first day of school, there was a flurry of activity throughout the building as faculty members set about one of their most important tasks of the year; preparing the classroom environment for the arrival of children.

Each room offers what Montessori referred to as “the prepared environment.” The prepared environment contains all of the elements needed for the child to work toward their highest potential. The essential components within this structure are specifically designed Montessori materials, a multi-age group of children and, of course, a Directress/Director (teacher) trained in Montessori principles.

The environment must be beautiful and inviting. It may be noted that all of the furniture is at the ideal height for the children who inhabit the space, not the adults. This will look different in each level of our school; as the children grow, so must their space. In Children’s House, even the art is at the eye level of the child, for they cannot appreciate what is out of their range nor do they want to feel dependent on an adult to lift them up to see what has been placed there for them.

Carefully designed Montessori materials are placed in their proper sequence throughout the environment. After a thoughtful, deliberate presentation by the Directress on the proper use of the materials, children are free to use them as often as they like. Children are not given “free rein” in the Montessori prepared environment, but guidelines that help them establish an inner discipline. The freedom of movement and ability to choose their work helps them learn to be thoughtful members of a larger community.

By creating and maintaining an environment that is beautiful, orderly and easily accessible to children, we are encouraging them to explore and respond to their natural desire to learn. This is not, however, the sole responsibility of the Directress and her assistant. Even the smallest child in our school is able to return a lesson to its proper place on the shelf, tidy, organized and ready for her classmates.

The prepared environment is what you see when you open the door to a Montessori classroom. To the children, though, it is the very door that will open the world to them.


Learn more about the Montessori Prepared Environment:

Advanced Math


Animal Lessons


Language Lessons


Returning Work


Metal Insets


Multi-age Classroom



One-through-ten Lessons

Practical Life


Milwaukee Montessori School
345 North 95th St, Milwaukee, WI 53226
T: 414.259.0370 F: 414.259.0427
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