Developing her educational method at the beginning of the 20th century, Maria Montessori promoted an education that positively contributes to the development of children’s brains, recognising their individuality and stimulating their autonomy. The scientific pedagogy that surrounds her method is being applied throughout architecture for children’s educational spaces with the aim of improving the quality of children’s learning and development, better equipping them for their futures.
A core facet that the method encompasses are it’s three pillars; the child, the conscious adult, and the prepared environment that should always be connected. One does not simply work without the other. The Montessori room is a very crucial environment that needs to be designed and prepared for accessibility in safe spaces – both in the child’s own homes and in public spaces.
When designing a Montessori room or space, simplicity is key with light colours and natural light being incorporated into a minimalistic space with little options to colours and toys in preventing confusion. When external environments are organised, the internal organisation of the child and their reasoning flows effortlessly. Everything must be designed so that children can move and interact through spaces without the intervention of an adult, however the presence of a conscious adult is always recommended.
A prepared environment must be explorable without risk, favouring physical autonomy and emotional autonomy whilst encouraging concentration. This type of room should be located in the quietest area of the house, recommended to avoid electronic sevides to create a quiet environment.
As the child spends the majority of their time in their bedroom; playing and sleeping, it is recommended to start with this space. Although the bedroom is an important space to any child, don’t focus primarily on the bedroom; prepare every environment within the house to ensure it is easily accessible.
Mirrors are a practical addition to the home, stimulating the child’s recognition of their own body and face in identifying facial expressions, which in turn discover their feelings and emotions. Being able to see their own reflection helps them realise that their parents and themselves are different human beings.
Montessori emphasised the importance of furniture like bedding, flooring, shelving and styling decors being child-friendly and accessible to the children’s daily lives in promoting independence.
Wardrobes and shelves are encouraged to be at the child’s height to encourage and train their ability to make small decisions on a daily basis. The idea of this approach is to help them in the future when faced to make important decisions of their own.
Embellishing and arousing an interest in art and creativity can be achieved through Imagery, photographs, and illustrations that are usually hung on the walls. This is only possible when they are hung at a height that the child can physically see, and in turn appreciate. Select illustrations and forms of art that align with reality, such as animals, fruits, places and people. When the environment is designed for a baby, incorporate high contrast geometric images, especially in black and white.
Preparing a home and its surrounding environments that a child immerses themselves in is crucial to their physical and emotional development. Although the indoor environment needs to be carefully considered, it is just as important that children have safe and stimulating outdoor experiences, complementing the techniques promoted by Montessori.
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