Image: Cardiff Montessori, UK.
Where do children sit in the Montessori classroom? There are lots of tables and chairs but when you walk into the classroom you will find children working in all sorts of locations and positions. The children are free to move around and work (while respecting others, within boundaries) where they wish. Last week I wrote about ergonomics while seated however children learn in all sorts of positions.
One of the big advantages of Montessori is Freedom of Movement. We don't just mean that for an infant who can get in or out of their floor bed. We also mean that for a nine year old who needs to take a break and stretch their legs - when they feel like it not when the teacher allows them too, we mean that for the eight-year-old who works better sitting on an exercise ball and can move while he works, we mean that for the children who don't need to ask permission to go to the toilet or get a drink of water or get some fresh air. While respecting the needs of others, children have freedom of movement within the classroom (including the outdoor classroom) and for older children often within the school boundaries.
In the classrooms I have observed, where do the children sit?
- On chairs at single tables
- On chairs in group tables
- On chairs in a group (often placed in a circle for group discussion)
- On stools
- On outdoor bench seating (often while working with others)
- On the floor using work mats
- On floor cushions, on rough rattan cushions, on silky soft cushions
- On couches or bean bags (many upper cycle classrooms have gathering spaces include couches/sofas)
- Outside on the grass
- Outside at work tables
- Kneeling using low table (as shown below)
- Often they stand or walk around
- Often they lie down
We know children do not need to be sitting at a desk or sitting still to be learning. I feel like this is reflected in many early learning centers but not followed through in most schools.
Why is freedom of movement important? Firstly it respects the unique nature of each individual. It also gives the child responsibility over their own actions. Children should have control over their own bodies and by doing this they learn more about themselves. It doesn't make for a more chaotic or restless community, it makes for a more harmonious one!
My children love to read hanging in the hammock or perched on a swing, perhaps they would love reading in a tree? One of Caspar's previous classroom had a pair of soft squishy couches right next to the class pet area, what better space to sit (and relax) while cuddling a guinea pig or holding a pet.
- Montessori: On Movement at Crumb Bums, including some lovely images.
- "From the very first moment a child sets foot in a Montessori school, he or she is taught to embrace movement as an essential aspect of the daily routine." The Ideal Definition of Movement in the Classroom at White Bear Montessori School.
- Can Learning Be Enhanced By Movement? at Montessori Society AMI UK.
- Flexible Seating in a Reggio-Inspired School at Fairy Dust Teaching.