Many parents seek a Montessori education for their young children today for its many benefits. It’s a different form of education that focuses not only on social and academic development but the “whole” development of each child. The educational model values cognitive and cultural differences and prioritizes hands-on, interactive learning.
Because Montessori education is so unique, it often requires childcare providers to organize their classrooms in a specific way. Montessori preschool owners can often receive more income and pay employees better, as a majority of families seeking this type of early childhood education expect to pay more for tuition.
While Montessori classrooms are appropriate for any age group from daycare to high school, this article will focus on preschool. If you’re a preschool provider interested in starting or improving a Montessori classroom, here are several things you need to know.
5 Steps to Set Up a Montessori Preschool Classroom
One thing that anyone new to a Montessori school will notice is that it’s a relaxed and simple space. The philosophy behind Montessori preschool is that when children focus on one task at a time — free of unnecessary distraction — their learning and development thrive.
Another standard of the Montessori classroom is its flexible rotation of “learning centers” or learning areas. Instead of straight rows of desks, chairs, and storage shelves, there are typically five stations throughout the room, each designated for a specific pillar of Montessori learning.
1. Know the Montessori Pillars and Principles
Before setting up your preschool classroom, learn about the main principles and pillars of Montessori education. These important concepts can be learned through Montessori teaching materials and organizations worldwide.
The ten educational principles established by Maria Montessori are:
- Respect for the child
- Absorbent minds
- Sensitive periods
- Educating the whole child
- Individualized learning
- Prepared environment
- Freedom of movement and choice
- Intrinsic motivation
The pillars and principles are basic learning frameworks that will inform every decision in your classroom. When practiced, these concepts encourage healthy development in children and establish their love for lifelong learning.
2. Plan a Montessori Preschool Curriculum
Once you know the key learning frameworks, plan your Montessori preschool curriculum. This gives you and your staff a plan for the learning objectives throughout the class. It also informs how you set up your classroom for intentional learning.
When creating a preschool lesson framework, make sure you include these key things:
- Learning objectives
- Materials used in each lesson (whether individual or group)
- Relevant notes to help teachers or support staff lead the activity
- Rules and guidelines for children to follow
- Corresponding Montessori pillars or learning areas (if applicable)
To help you develop the best curriculum for your class, use a digital preschool management software to organize everything in one place. Software like this provides you with helpful teaching resources online and also allows you to record learning assessments, quickly access and edit lesson plans, and communicate with staff and parents.
3. Purchase Classroom Equipment
For Montessori equipment, you need tables and storage shelves that are easily accessible to young children. Many Montessori preschool classrooms include miniature kitchenettes, sinks, drawers, and coat hangers to encourage practical life skills like cooking and putting belongings away.
When it comes to classroom supplies, toys, and learning materials, things look a bit different than in regular preschools. Here’s a list of Montessori classroom materials you should prioritize for preschoolers:
- Moveable alphabet
- Pink tower
- Constructive shapes
- Sandpaper letters and numbers
- Puzzle maps
- Number counters
- Cylinder blocks
- Brown stairs
- Botany cabinet
- Touch boards (texture boards)
- Thermal tablets
- Beads, bead chains, bead frames
Many of these items are specific to early Montessori education, which you can easily find with an internet search. If you need help getting started, look into Montessori classroom start-up sets that include basic furniture, supplies, and equipment to set a classroom foundation.
4. Create Learning Centers in the Montessori Classroom
The Montessori classroom setup is a cornerstone of its teaching philosophy. There are five key learning areas in every Montessori class. These are physical centers in the classroom where children go to engage in hands-on, self-led activities.
Here are the five learning centers to establish, as well as what each center means:
- Language: materials that teach the alphabet, reading, writing, and communication skills.
- Sensorial: activities that engage one or more of the five senses.
- Math: a station that stimulates problem-solving, counting, numeration, and comparison.
- Practical life: a unique space that equips children to practice self-care, courtesy, daily chores, and caring for others.
- Cultural: an important area that teaches respect, understanding, and engagement between different cultural aspects of the world. This center often changes monthly.
In Montessori classrooms, these five areas aren’t visually separated. The room remains open, free-flowing, and communal. Teachers and staff remain attentive to all children, with the ability to offer individualized guidance to any child in need.
5. Aim for a Minimalist Decoration Style
Vibrant, ever-changing decor is often expected in traditional preschool classrooms. But in Montessori spaces, there’s a focus on minimal design. The idea is “less is more”: children get to focus on their interests, classmates, teachers, and activities without being distracted by highly-stimulating visual surroundings.
From the walls to the toys to the furniture, Montessori classrooms tend to be full of clean, natural materials like wood and cloth. While this might seem old-fashioned, it promotes ease and calm for optimal learning. But you’re not limited to white walls. Every Montessori teacher sets up their classroom differently — many add modern elements and educational artwork.
Lastly, be sure to keep your classroom clean and clutter-free. This encourages children to help maintain the classroom environment while promoting an orderly learning space.
Set Up the Best Montessori Classroom for Preschoolers
The way you set up your Montessori classroom is one of the most important steps to teaching well. However, the number one thing you can do to ensure optimal Montessori learning is to create a solid curriculum, and then set up your classroom to accommodate the plan.
Today, there are digital tools to help childcare owners like you make the most of their Montessori classrooms. Using a childcare software that supports the Montessori framework, such as Daily Connect, can help you keep every element of your Montessori classroom running efficiently.
Whether you’re just starting to set up your classroom or you want help changing your existing layout, Daily Connect can help. Start your free trial of our Montessori preschool platform today.