In one of my first posts, I promised to write about the way that the atrium environment supports the independence of the children. The atrium is a prepared space – meaning that adults carefully put each room together according to the children’s needs.
- Everything in the space is scaled to the children who use it. The furnishings and the materials were all chosen to allow them to be used successfully and independently by the children. For example, the chairs in each atrium are always small enough for children to carry on their own, everything is within reach on the shelves, trays of materials are light enough to be carefully carried to tables etc.
- We strive to have every part of every work ready and available for use in the atrium. This way, children can use the materials freely without having to look for missing pieces or ask for adult help. (I’ll admit it - this is the reason Catechists sometimes get grumpy when other people innocently rifle through the shelves!)
- We have all the necessary cleaning supplies and replacement pieces available in the atrium, so that the children can clean spills and dirty items, replace used items, and always return the materials to the shelves ready for use by the next person.
All of these factors make it possible for children to follow their own interests and the promptings of the Holy Spirit during the two hour work period in the atrium, often with little help from the catechists.
Check back soon to learn how the materials themselves meet the vital needs of the children…