The Prepared Environments of Maria and Marie

Would Maria Montessori and Marie Kondo (home organization guru) be friends?

Each Montessori guide comes into their classroom envisioning what their prepared environment will be. This is one of Maria Montessori’s tenets. She said, “The teacher’s first duty is to watch over the environment, and this takes precedence over all the rest. Its influence is indirect, but unless it is well done there will be no effective and permanent results of any kind; physical, intellectual or spiritual.”

To begin each year, the classroom guide decides on the placement of shelves and materials in the classroom. The guide makes decisions on what materials stay on a shelf or what materials are put away and brought out only during a lesson. Is it essential? Is it needed for the growth of the child? Will it spark interest?

As I came into this year as the new guide in the Orion Montessori School Elementary classroom, I was able to look closely at the room and all the materials and decide how to prepare them for children to connect with their environment.

I couldn’t help but think about the correlation between the prepared environment of the classroom and the prepared environment of our homes. I moved to California from Washington. During this move I was able to look closely at my ‘stuff’ that I place in my prepared environment, my home. Moving to another state gave me an opportunity to reassess, and that’s what I did. Marie Kondo has recently gained attention for viewing our personal growth through the lens of dealing with “our stuff”. Do her tenets line up with that of Maria Montessori’s? Would they be friends?

In reference to setting up a Montessori classroom, Maria Montessori talked about the prepared environment. She said, “To assist a child we must provide him with an environment which will enable him to develop freely, only through freedom and environmental experience is it practically possible for human development to occur. The child builds his inmost self out of the deeply held impressions he receives. The essential thing is to arouse such an interest that it engages the child’s whole personality. The child must live in an environment of beauty.”

Marie Kondo is currently in the spotlight as the home organizational guru. She is known for the KonMari method of home organization. Marie says, “Anxiety arises from not being able to see the whole picture. If you feel anxious, but are not sure why, try putting your things in order. Tidying your physical space allows you to tend to your psychological space. Cherish the things you love. Cherish Yourself.”

When I read through both of these amazing women’s thoughtful statements about “stuff”, I see the similarities. They both are looking at how stuff can either add to our comfort and development or hinder them. They both are speaking about the prepared environment.

Maria Montessori says, “Beauty both promotes concentration of thought and offers refreshment to the tired spirit.” Marie Kondo says, “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”

Maria says, “The child, making use of all that he finds around him, shapes himself for the future.” Marie says, “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

To me, they’re speaking the same language.

Maria Montessori is directing us as guides to prepare an environment, in the Montessori classroom, for children to work and develop themselves for the future.

Marie Kondo is guiding us in our homes, to let go of ourselves from our past, and prepare ourselves for who we want to be.

The present is what we have, but the future is where we are all heading.

Maria and Marie would be friends.

Shawn Kreider


Shawn Kreider

Elementary Guide