Our Prepared Environments

Get to Know our Environments, Teachers, and Students

The Montessori Prepared Environment

With the temperatures growing cooler and the trees changing color, let’s turn our attention to the warmth and comfort of the prepared learning environments at Island Montessori School (IMS). Our segue to the prepared environment draws on foundational concepts: Maria Montessori’s model as a teacher and normalization. You can access blog posts that discuss these concepts on the IMS website!
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Why does the environment matter?

The prepared environment is a central component of the Montessori philosophy. Through observation, Maria discovered that students naturally learn by absorbing and acting upon their environments. Young children organically absorb information from the world around them, a trait Maria coined the absorbent mind. Even though students outgrow the sensitive period for absorption, all children and adolescents can learn from hands-on experiences. Therefore, the preparedness of the learning environment to provide holistic learning opportunities is critical to students’ development.


A prepared Montessori environment is differentiated by interesting works (developmentally aligned) and a characteristic home-like appeal. Each learning environment at IMS is designed aesthetically yet simplistically with the unique students in that class in mind. Shelves of Montessori and teacher-created materials reflect this balance of beauty and minimalism. Across learning areas, students have access to a range of manipulative materials; this range narrows as learning becomes gradually more abstract. Across levels, students experience going out or field trips that diversify holistic learning opportunities and pique interest. IMS teachers’ loving acceptance and support of our unique students is reflected in the delicate and deliberate preparation of their learning environments including activities, lessons, and materials.

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The Montessori Guide: Artist and Scientist

The teacher is an essential element of the prepared environment. As peripheral yet integral features of the environment, IMS teachers are welcoming and kind, neat and organized. The teachers’ presence and attitude models normalization and lifelong learning. Their gracious and courteous nature inspires a peaceful community ready for academic challenges and social experiences.


IMS teachers are not only artists of presentation; they are also scientists of preparation. With the scientific practice of observation and other assessment strategies, Montessori teachers gauge students’ interests and mastery to guide normalization and map progress. Maria wrote that the Montessori teacher’s role is unique because they are continually preparing for students who are not yet there. By anticipating and guiding development, teachers create and guide lessons and activities that serve students’ varied needs and interests. As artists and scientists, IMS teachers follow their students as their leaders.

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The Montessori Student: Evidentiary Proof

Strategic minimalism, aesthetics, and teachers are integral to the prepared environment so that students may adapt and flourish. As such, IMS students explore conducive works including real-life objects for the development of practical life skills; sensory, mathematics/geometry, language, science, and cultural materials for specific and creative uses to stimulate brain development, multidimensional learning, and education of the hand; and socialization activities that develop independence and community. Students are given various opportunities to experience patience, self-regulation, and citizenship in the prepared environment so that they may be truly free. Artfully and scientifically, IMS teachers continue to support normalization and serve diverse needs that lead to innovation in practice and setting. Overall, the students’ uniquely paced development of independence and communion is evidence of their adaption and flourishing cultivated by the prepared environment.
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2021-2022: Year of Roots

Each school year, Island Montessori School (IMS) focuses on a school-wide theme. This year, IMS is reflecting upon our roots: our school mission and Montessori practices. You can join us by visiting the school website and reading the head of school's newsletter and instructional coordinator's academic blog.

Island Montessori School

The mission of Island Montessori Charter School is to enable children of diverse backgrounds to learn and grow at their own pace by offering a developmentally appropriate and challenging academic Montessori environment that models grace and courtesy and fosters a peaceful community of lifelong learners.