The Montessori classroom is a prepared environment, a positive and natural place for children to develop individually and gradually, with neither failure nor competition. The purpose of the specially designed equipment of the Montessori prepared environment is to guide the children towards independence in all spheres of development – physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual and social.
The structured Montessori classroom provides freedom within clear limits. It gives children a great deal of flexibility to make their own choices about the kind of work to engage in, and whether to do it collaboratively or individually.
Like all great teachers, the Montessori teacher deliberately models the same behaviours and attitudes she is working to instil in her students. The Montessori teacher is a trained observer of children’s learning and behaviour. These observations are recorded and used to determine what each child needs for further development. This also leads the teacher to know when to intervene in the child’s learning with a new lesson, a fresh challenge or a reinforcement of basic ground rules. As children learn in many different ways and at their own pace, the Montessori teacher is trained to “follow the child” and enhance the development of each of her pupils. They do this to a large degree, through the design of the classroom, the selection and organisation of learning activities and the structure of the day.
World-wide a number of accredited Montessori training institutions operate recognized training courses for Montessori teachers. Generally teachers will undertake a one year full-time (or equivalent part-time) diploma course, which qualifies them to work with children in one of the following age groups: 0 – 3 years, 3 – 6 years, 6 – 12 years.