The Prepared Environment is an essential aspect of our pedagogy and curriculum at every level, specifically designed to meet the changing needs of your student as he grows and matures.
THE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
In both Toddlers and Children’s House, natural lighting, natural colors, and uncluttered spaces set the stage for focused and calm activity, everything designed to convey a sense of harmony and order that both structures and inspires self-directed work. Every space is arranged to support the natural flow of learning and geared for all the different kinds of engagement students require. Learning materials are displayed on child-accessible shelves and the room is divided in “curriculum areas” with activities sequenced by type and complexity. You find large areas—both indoors and out—for children to safely practice gross motor control. You see a range of activities designed for the single-minded toddler with fewer and less subtle distinctions than those you see in Children’s House, where you find students engaged in more complex works. You see children in quiet, serene corners for reading or thinking.
Our teachers ensure each classroom is prepared for learning every day, taking each child’s unfolding process and progress into consideration. They look ahead, design, organize, and plan, anticipating ways to create beautiful spaces that are warm, inviting, and inspire each student’s next fascination.
THE SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT
Your child doesn’t just need safe, engaging, and orderly physical spaces for optimal learning, he needs social spaces with these selfsame qualities to support his academic and emotional growth.
As your child gains experience and maturity in Children’s House, we encourage him to see himself—his needs, preferences, and choices—in the context of an ever more expansive community. He learns strategies that help him manage his emotions, listen responsively, resolve conflict, and address people with kindness.
He learns these essential habits of Grace and Courtesy not only from his teachers, but also from his peers in our mixed-age classrooms, a hallmark of Montessori education. In this environment, younger children naturally look to their older peers for guidance—both for how to behave and for insight and coaching as they learn new academic or practical life skills. A 5-year-old in her capstone Early Learning year is proud to show a newer arrival to Children’s House how to properly organize, prepare, and serve snacks to the class, how to sound out new words, how to classify marine animals. Older students benefit equally, as they teach lessons they’ve mastered to the younger children. After your child has practiced—again and again, safely and carefully, taking the time to get a lesson or skill right—she can teach what she’s learned to her younger classmates, proving and reinforcing her new skills. At age 6, most children are just reaching the point of readiness to take on this leadership role, one reason “Kindergarten” at MSR is intentionally designed as a capstone year rather than an entry point.
THE INTANGIBLE ENVIRONMENT
Perhaps the most vital aspect of our learning environment, palpable the moment you arrive, might also be the most difficult to describe. It’s not something you can easily point to: a place, a program, a policy. Rather, it’s a mindset—a community-wide belief in the capacity of our students to take responsibility for themselves and their work; make meaningful, independent choices; both fail and succeed spectacularly and safely; and thus learn lessons so deeply that they inform their lives forever.
Over time in this environment, through both practice and osmosis, your child develops the MSR mindset, too. She learns to approach every challenge first with the assumption that she can do it (whatever “it” is): perform a play in front of the whole school, write her first story, make her own dinner.
She may not know how yet, but she’s learning from experience that—with a little guidance from others and persistence from within—she’s capable of learning how to do anything. In the process, she’s developing an ever growing sense of who she is, what her strengths are, and how she learns best.