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Montessori in a Minute: Work Mats

What is the Montessori Work Mat?

The work mat is one of Montessori education’s most recognizable tools. These natural fiber mats are often wool, cotton, or even bamboo. You will find them in baskets or racks in almost every Montessori school across the globe. Small 24- by 36-inch mats are used for most activities. More extensive math works require larger 28- by 42-inch mats.

The Value of Montessori Work Mat

These mats are an integral part of Montessori learning. A simple task like rolling and unrolling mats is one of the first skills taught to new students. Children learn this intentional skill quickly, building a child’s confidence in their ability to perform classroom tasks early on.

Selecting and setting out the mats marks the beginning of the student’s work cycle and prepares them for independent work time. After they set out a mat, the child selects their work from the shelves around the classroom. They set out their materials from left to right, enforcing pre-reading and writing skills.

All members of the Montessori classroom are taught to consider and respect each other’s workspaces. This delineation of personal workspace shows children how they have “freedom within limits.” When students see that their classmates do not disturb them or ask permission to join their work, it encourages them to return the same courtesy.

As children learn more complex concepts, some of their work is not completed in one sitting. Whether they have to go to the bathroom, recess, or lunch, their mat remains a secure and undisturbed workspace.

The act of rolling up and putting away the mat when their work is complete helps students achieve a feeling of resolution and accomplishment when independent work time ends. It also takes numerous skills like eye-hand coordination, visual discrimination, patience and perseverance. Seeing other classroom members focus on their work areas helps instill respect and confidence in their classmates and themselves.

The Montessori in a Minute Series

Montessori schools like Hudson Montessori School utilize specially designed tools like the work mat to promote experiential and sensorial learning that students can repeatedly practice at each age level. Often, these tools are self-correcting, allowing the child to check their work and adjust accordingly.

This Montessori In A Minute series regularly explores the unique benefits of these fundamental materials.

To learn more about Hudson Montessori School’s interdisciplinary, theme-based learning approach to education, the Montessori philosophy and methodology, or how the school fosters the love of learning for children age 2 to sixth grade, sign up for an open house tour most Tuesdays at 9 a.m.

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