Friday, January 2, 2009

Our School Room

Any study of the Montessori method begins with the "prepared environment."  There is an article here that talks about this at length, although I must say I prefer the explanations given in some of my favorite books (see list in sidebar).  At any rate, I thought I too would begin by showing your our Montessori environment.

Our environment will actually have to be discussed in two parts, the school room, and the rest of the house.  Technically all of the child's current Montessori materials are supposed to be available to the child AT ALL TIMES.  I made an executive decision to keep materials that are fragile, choking hazards, or just downright expensive in a "school room."  That room is off-limits to the boys without an adult present.  Kal-El can ask to go in at any time however, and as long as it suits what the family is doing at the time, he can.   Otherwise, the rest of the house has been made as "Montessori" as I am comfortable with.  (I have to balance the pro-independence/child-controlled tenet of the Montessori method with the put-the-child-in-lockdown/control-freak element of my own personality.)

We have a round office at the back of our house with floor to ceiling bookshelves.  They aren't really deep enough to hold certain Montessori materials, but we'll have to make do.  I spent a couple of days rearranging the bookshelves so that the bottom two rows were clear for the boys' materials.  I took "before" pictures, but my husband deleted them from our picture files and then emptied the trash because he had NO IDEA why I would want any photographs of the shelves in such an embarrassing state.  

These "after" pictures were taken in August.  I'll have to post some more recent photos soon so that you can see what is currently on the shelves.  The long bank of shelves are for Kal-El's materials and a shorter bank of shelves hold Me Too's.  (I apologize to family and friends for the pseudonyms, but I want to keep the boys safe from government spies).  These pictures don't show Me Too's shelves very well.  There is another wall of shelves at a 90 degree angle from these, you can see the geometric cabinet sticking out a little bit if you have a good eye for that type of thing.

Montessori activities almost always take place on a rug.  I will talk more about the beauty of rugs in a future post.  You can see the rugs in a leather bin in the photo along with my childhood table.  The table works well for activities like transferring water with a dropper.

There is a closet in the room that is now full of all of the Montessori materials I have made and purchased.  I'm sure I'll dedicate a whole post to closets at some point.  It is pretty obvious that this is also our exercise room.  It used to also be our computer room.  This room is, however, very difficult to heat in the winter.  Our computer actually FROZE (the system fans got so cold they wouldn't run).  Our computer is now in the dining room.  It is no big loss.  We are liking that location a bit better.  We have lived here five years and have never once eaten a meal at the dining room table because the view from the kitchen table is extraordinary. Why would you want to miss that?  We are also enjoying not having to put on a snowsuit to go check e-mail.  The low temperatures in the "school room," as we now call it, are actually posing a problem with actually schooling in there and have interrupted our flow as of late.  That room is about 40 degrees inside when it is -10 degrees outside...even with a space heater (oil, safe) running full-time.

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