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The Montessori Children's House: An Introduction
NAMTA's purpose is to maintain Montessori traditions, and at the same time, to be on the cutting edge of innovative education. Accordingly, we provide the medium for study, interpretation, and improvement of Montessori education.
An ideal Montessori classroom is sunny and airy but draft-free, with low windows, a tile or wood floor, and about forty square feet per child. Ideally, washrooms are located just off the classroom with child-sized toilets and low sinks. Classrooms are often finished with acoustical ceiling tile and curtains in cool pastels. Child-height water sources and drinking fountains are nice features, along with low light switches. A separate entrance with a cloakroom, plus an adjacent teacher office and storage space, are characteristic of classrooms built for Montessori. Even in large schools, modular classrooms open up to individual outdoor spaces, with interior alcoves and discrete spaces which help create a "house for children" atmosphere.
Classrooms generally consist of approximately 40 square feet per child with both carpeted and wet space with sinks in the room. Wet space is usually about 400 square feet to accommodate lunch.
Furniture styles are varied in design. Tables can have different shapes, including rectangles, squares, ovals, trapezoids. Chairs should be matched to table height, which varies according to the age level of the class. Shelving, whether painted or natural wood, should be light in color, child-sized, and not in excess of eight inches wide for easy access.
Enriched outdoor environments include a natural habitat and adjacent gardening and activity space for each classroom. Pick-up/drop off traffic access, benches for waiting children, child-sized picnic tables, and safe playgrounds are other aspects to consider.
Rental space for the classroom is frequently obtained from schools, churches, park buildings, community centers, apartment complexes, private school buildings, nursery schools, and estate mansions. When renting, consider the availability of additional space for expansion at the same site. Look closely at tenants with whom you may have to coexist. Try to obtain a lease with at least one year's notice for cancellation, with opportunity for alteration of the building and some protection against major capital expenses (roof, furnace, asbestos removal, etc.) and a long-term arrangement with specified rent levels (three to five years).
Review the site, keeping in mind zoning, fire, and health regulations, before finalizing classroom design. Panic bars, exit lights, fire alarm pull stations, fire exits, and safety plugs are details which may be overlooked and then cause cost and inconvenience later.