The Spark environment draws its inspiration from the Montessori prepared environment. The Montessori prepared environment encourages learners to develop agency and to seek out opportunities and resources. This freedom helps young people develop positive relationships with “work,” which leads to motivated, independent learners. Freedom and boundaries in the studio have a direct relationship with the prepared environment. The environment is prepared on six basic principles. They are-
- Freedom – The freedom for movement and choice.
- Structure and Order – Each area, as well as each material, has a meticulous order and structure for the child’s eyes and mind. The materials are scientific and step-by-step. Their scope and sequence are of utmost importance during the introduction of a lesson.
- Beauty – There is beauty in the way we present materials on a shelf, or even as a lesson. We use natural materials to house these works.
- Nature and Reality– We use natural material to connect the child to Nature and the environment is very real in the way it works. Everything that the child would see and experience in their daily life is also what they see in their prepared environment.
- Social Environment – The mixed-age group, and the individuality combined with the cohesiveness of this environment, form the social environment.
- Intellectual Environment – If the above aspects are not recognized, the intellectual environment will not reach its purpose. The purpose of the Montessori environment is to develop the whole personality of the child, not merely their intellect. By guiding the child through the five areas of the Montessori curriculum (Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, and Cultural subjects), the child has the structure which is at the forefront of the creative work in a Montessori classroom.
A lot of thought and intention is involved in creating a prepared Montessori studio that is designed to meet the individual needs of all children. Through developmentally appropriate, sensorial material that moves hierarchically from simple to complex and concrete to abstract, children are given the freedom to fully develop their unique potential through a carefully prepared learning environment. Modern research shows that a prepared environment works wonders not just for the children, but also, for adults with regards to daily habits and the use of precious mental energy each day. It ultimately all ties to identity and character, and we are so grateful to Dr. Maria Montessori for leaving us with a gem in this principle decades ago.