namc montessori today chapter 5 classroom environment. smiling girl in front of ocean

The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.
—Maria Montessori
The Absorbent Mind, p. 84.

On my first day as a Montessori teacher, I entered the classroom with a plan already made. I had the whole first day meticulously thought out, down to the minute. The students and I would gather in a circle and get to know one another. We would tour the room and the shelves, eat snack together, and establish our classroom rules. We would also learn proper procedures for using materials, going to the bathroom, and so on. I did not foresee any real work happening for the first few days. Imagine my surprise, when, after greeting the last pupil, I entered the classroom to see 32 lower elementary students at work! Even the students who were new to Montessori had paired up with someone, and they all had mats unrolled with materials on them. They had not waited for instruction from me before they started their learning. It was if they could not wait one more minute to get started.

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