Most people who've worked in a Montessori environment will read the title of this post and say "Well duh!" and I also obviously know how important it is. Over the past month the importance of having that prepared environment has really been emphasised.
Before Sweetpea came to us she was looked after by her Dad(while her Mama was courageously teaching L and her classmates). I believe they had basically quiet days with a strong routine.
When Sweetpea first came it was obviously a huge adjustment for her. Everything in her little world was new. The people, environment and routine. Sweetpea is a very happy, sweet natured little thing and adjusted really quickly.
I did observe that in the first couple days she would just go from one thing to the next not spending more than a second or two with each item. She would mostly go through all of the materials pulling them off the shelves and hucking them out of the baskets. Now this is completely normal behaviour for a 12 month old however I knew she was capable of really using the materials for their purpose. I would introduce a material to her but she would quickly loose interest and move on to something else before I'd finished the short presentation. It was tempting to figure she was bored and just wanted new things to explore, however all of my reading and some advice from the wonderful Pilar (The Full Montessori) made me stick to my guns and just let her continue to explore and get used to the materials that were on the shelves. By the end of the second week I was already noticing a change in her interaction with the materials. Instead of just moving quickly from one item to another she was beginning to experiment with things. Oh this goes in here, if I do this this happens.
It was super exciting the first time she realised the could fit the cylinder into the imbucare box. Last week while I was in hospital she completely mastered it and can now also do the rectangular prism.
Sweetpea is taking more care with the items and figuring out how they work and what they will do. For example instead of just pulling the stacking cups off the shelf she will carefully pull out one by one and then work out how they fit back into each other. There are obviously some items which hold her interest more than others.
Sweetpea now feels completely at home and comfortable in this environment and her growth and exploration is amazing. I usually switch out one material a week or add an extension material if she's mastered something. I will do an upcoming post on what each baby is working on.
Baby J loves having Sweetpea here and is totally spurred on to try and do what she is able to do. He is desperate to move like she does. It is wonderful to see them interacting together and a favourite game is to hand things back and forth to each other.
Here are a few pics of Baby J at work.
Another note on the environment. Obviously it can get pretty messy at times but I try to put things back as they have moved on to something else so that the babies are used to seeing the environment always in order.