Effective learning takes place best in an environment that allows the child the freedom to make discoveries while providing ground rules and programmed materials which allow a child to move from hands on concrete manipulation to abstract mastery.
The Montessori environment includes a fine balance between structure and freedom. The concept of freedom, a freedom which entails responsibility, is gradually introduced from the time the children enter school. Freedom does not involve only being able to do what you want to do. It involves being able to distinguish what is constructive and beneficial and then being able to carry it out. Montessori children have a wide variety of constructive paths to choose. They gain the skills and tools to accomplish their choices and are taught the social values that enable them to make enlightened choices.
Experience tells us that creativity cannot be taught and that the child's environment tends to either foster or restrict creativity. To foster creativity, Dr. Montessori realized that the environment must itself be beautiful, harmonious, and based on reality in order for children to organize their perceptions of it. Then they will be capable of selecting and emphasizing those processes necessary for creative endeavors. Children, therefore, need freedom to develop creativity--freedom to select what attracts them in their environment, to relate to it without interruption and for as long as they like, to discover solutions and ideas and select answers on their own, and to communicate and share their discoveries with others at will.
The classroom is the child's work place. It is a safe, orderly, open space that invites or draws the child into it to "work". It contains materials and equipment necessary for children's learning. Depending on the age and needs of the students in the classroom, it will contain materials and equipment for learning in the various curriculum areas. The environment may contain materials for practical life, sensorial education, language, math, geography, science, art and any other various subject areas that are available for the students.