6 Core Principles of Prepared Montessori Environment Number 2. Order and structure

Next principle of prepared Montessori space is order and structure. In this post, we will discuss some moments that all together form the idea of order in Montessori environment. I hope these components will help you to understand that order plays a huge part in Montessori education.

Human is born with the ability to adjust. Child's brain in the period of absorbent mind soaks up everything around him not dividing things at good or bad. A newborn child has no idea what order is. He will treat the environment around him as order, as natural position of things. He will thus get used to it. This relates not only to material things but to the treatment of adults, the way of speaking, relationships. In this period, child adapts to climate, environment, rules, culture and language. 

External order helps the child to understand the sense, meaning and relationships between things that surround him. 

This type of order will help him understand that

  • everything has its place
  • everything has its meaning
  • everything has its time
Order in the environment entails inner peace and harmony. Maria Montessori was saying that child is born with a chaos inside and due to the organised environment he brings his inner world in order.

There are 3 main types of order:

1. Order in environment

This means that

- every item should have its place
Special place for every single thing in the house. Yes, it can sound crazy but it will not only make child's life easier, it will make yours easier too. The child will know where to find what he wants and where to put it back. This way the child feels himself more comfortable, he knows what he can expect from the environment and the world in general.
Low shelves are perfect for toys. Therefore, the child can reach them by himself. 
All necessary items are on the child's level. He doesn't need adults to serve him. It teaches the child to be independent and also it saves your time!
Perfect thing if every room is adjusted to child's needs. He can be independent in every part of the house. He can see that in every room there is a special place for every item.

Kitchen area from Every Star is Different

- every item has only one place
In Montessori classroom, there is a special place for broom and wiper. The child knows that in any occasion he can use them and he can find them. It gives child feeling that he knows the world around him, that the environment is stable and safe. Changing position of some items can make kid frustrated. Also keeping only one place for every item again helps develop his independence. Plus it is easier for him to keep  such environment in order.

- every item has only one function
This point especially relates to young children. In the period of learning the things around, the child forms connections between things. It is not always easy. In the beginning, one thing has only one connection. The more he learns the more connections he forms. In the very young age, it is better to avoid showing variations of using things because it may puzzle him. For example, an adult is playing with a kid, an adult takes some container and puts it on his head, a child laughs. Next day child puts the container on his head. But the aim of the container is storing things and child can't yet understand that adult was joking. Kid thinks that this is how we should use it. This is just imaginary situation, I am not some kind of snob that is against having some fun :)

- every item has its name and only one name
Dust cloth is a dust cloth, and not a dust cloth in the morning and wiper in the evening. It would be perfect if everyone in the house will support it. This way the child will learn names faster. 

- a lot of personal items
The child forms connections between things and people too. I was at the friend's house and she gave me her sweater because it was a bit cold. Then her toddler asked me why I was wearing his mother's sweater. Young children likely to connect a lot of items with people. That is why it can be helpful to have a lot of personal things. Special hook for child's towel, his own small cupboard, his space in the kitchen for his cooking utensil. Knowing that every item has its owner also adds to the child's concept of peace  and stability around him.

Montessori toddler closet from The Kavanaugh report

It is important  to say about the next moment, in Montessori classroom we have  a rule - if you take material from the shelf you should put it back to its place. You can not take another thing from the shelf if your previous material is still on your workplace. This rule is awesome for home too. You can start using it very early, it gives wonderful results. It supports order so much! Actually, an order can not be formed without this rule. Don't forget that it is fair for everyone.

How we Montessori has an awesome post about making orderly home for kids

2. Order in time

The daily regime, routines, structured life cycle help the child to be sure in the things happening around him. He knows what to wait, he prepares himself. It gives him orientation.
It helps him understand that:
- activities have its time. There is a special time for dinner, for going to bed, for visiting school etc.
- activities have its sequence. For example, firstly we cook together, then we eat, after you help me to wash dishes.
- activities have its duration. 

3. Order in adults' actions

Your actions and requests should be fair for everyone If there is a rule for the child to wash his cup after using it, so ask uncle Tom to do it too when he visits you. The child will see such family support and it will promote his independence.

Try to make your words and requests clear. Keep them identical. If it was not allowed, for example, to jump on the bad yesterday it is not allowed today, and it will not be allowed tomorrow. Try to have a discussion with family members so every member will have same rules and their actions towards the child's actions will be the same. If mummy says no, daddy says no too.

Zoning in Montessori classroom is very helpful for keeping order. There are several areas in Montessori classroom:
- practical life area
- sensorial area
- mathematics area
- language area
- cosmic area
+ some additional places like reading area, animal corner, nature table etc.
We keep material connected to these zones on the selves.

Shelf with Mathematics materials from To the Lesson page

At home, you can create all these areas too. You can adjust kitchen and bathroom so it would be more suitable and comfortable for your kid. He will be able to do things by himself there. You can make separate toys and make special shelves for them. You will receive great results.

On the whole, what results can a child get from order?
- comfort
- safety
- support
- emotional and social permanence
- protection
- understanding
- inner peace

Order develops: 
- independence
- self-discipline
- confidence
- self-esteem

I found several other resources for you to read about order:

NAMC Montessori Teacher Training Blog always has very helpful articles.  Please read their Understanding the Child’s Sense of Order in the Montessori Environment post where they share their life experience to get more information about the order.
Mis Manos Montessori shares some scientific facts and discusses influence of order on child's development in Thoughts on Montessori - On Order
Montessori Early Stimulation Center - Order
Montessori School of Duluth - A need for order
Lexington Montessori School - Order

Next principle that we are going to discuss is Beauty and Atmosphere.


  1. This is fabulous! Thank you for going into so much detail about something so important. I'm flattered that you've chosen one of my pictures to use as an example.