Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Montessori Prepared Environment: What is Control of Error?

NAMC montessori prepared environment control of error cylinders

Maria Montessori observed that given the opportunity, children would rather correct themselves than depend on an adult to do it for them. She believed that making mistakes was a natural part of learning and that developing self-correction skills helped develop confidence and decision-making skills.

A Montessori classroom only works if the materials it holds are complete and used appropriately. A prepared physical environment includes incorporating a control of error in the children’s works. The materials and presentations contain a control of error which makes the child use his/her reasoning abilities and promotes independence. This allows quick feedback for the child by allowing him to self-correct. The responsibility for learning rests with the learner.

Montessori Prepared Environment: What is Control of Error?

Examples of Control of Error:
  • In the Children’s House, furniture is light enough to be moved without adult help. It is easily knocked over if the child does not control his movements.
  • Objects in the classroom are breakable. Children learn to pour from glass pitchers and handle fragile items. This teaches them to handle things carefully to avoid damage or breakage.
NAMC montessori prepared environment control of error nomenclature cards
  • Nomenclature card sets include a working set and a control set of picture and label cards. As the Montessori teacher presents the lesson, the child watches the teacher use the working set, then refer to the control set to be sure the work was done correctly. The child is then able to use the working and control set when choosing the activity on his own.
  • Another way of creating a control of error is to place small colored dots or numbers on the bottom of the materials. For example, when working with the sound cylinders, the child can check the bottom of the cylinders to see if the dots/numbers match. If they do, she knows she has matched them correctly.

The blackline masters provided by NAMC have controls of error built in, as do most purchased Montessori materials. However, it is important when developing your own materials and lessons to remember to ask yourself, do the children need to come to me for the answers or are they able to self-correct? If they can do it on their own, you’ve created a set of Montessori materials that will soon become a favorite in your classroom.

Sample NAMC Preschool/Kindergarten blackline masters - Culture & Science

More on this series:
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, November 21, 2007.


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