You will not find rows of desks in our classrooms at Brilliant Star. The Brilliant Star learning environment is set up to facilitate student discussion and stimulate collaborative learning. One glance and it is clear that our children feel comfortable and at home.
Students will typically be found scattered around the classroom, working alone or with one or two others. They will tend to become so involved in their work that we cannot help but be tremendously impressed by the peaceful atmosphere.
It may take a moment to spot the teachers within the classrooms. They will be found working with one or two children at a time, advising, presenting a new lesson, or quietly observing the class at work.
Specific characteristics associated with the child’s interests and abilities can be seen at each plane of development. A school carefully designed to meet the needs and interests of the child will work more effectively because it is consistent with basic principles of psychology. Rather than fight the laws of nature, we “follow the child” and allow him/her to show us how to facilitate the development of his/her human potential.
This focus on the “whole child” has led Brilliant Star to develop a very different sort of school from the traditional adult-centered classroom. The classroom is not the domain of the adults in charge, but rather a carefully prepared environment designed to facilitate the development of the child’s independence and sense of personal empowerment.
This is a true community of young children. They move freely within the room and between classrooms selecting work that captures their interest, rather than passively participating in lessons and projects selected by the teacher.
In a very real sense, even the very youngest students at Brilliant Star take care of their own child-sized environment. When they are hungry, they prepare their own snack and drink. When something spills, they help each other carefully clean things up. Parents are often amazed to see small children in Brilliant Star’s classrooms cut raw fruits and vegetables, sweep and dust, carry pitchers of water, and pour liquids with barely a drop spilled.
These little ones normally go about their work so calmly and purposefully that it is clear to even the casual observer that this is their environment. The classrooms are commonly referred to as “prepared environments.” This name reflects the care and attention that is given to creating a learning environment that will reinforce the children’s independence and intellectual development.
"The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences." – Maria Montessori