Dr. Maria Montessori became the first female physician in Italy in 1896. Her medical practice and clinical observations led her to analyze how children learn and how they "construct themselves" from what they find in their immediate environment. The materials she developed are based on what she observed children doing "naturally". 

Montessori's profound contribution to education was the creation of an environment, materials and teacher training system which responds to a simple truth - children teach themselves.


The Preschool Years - Children have extraordinary powers of mind. They have a unique ability to "absorb" knowledge from their environments just by living. The peak time of this "absorbent mind" is from birth to six years of age.


  • They learn by exploring and discovery

  • They learn through their five senses

  • They respond to order from their innate need to know where things belong and how they fit together

  • They want to master the movements of their own bodies

  • They need to have freedom to choose without unnecessary adult interference 

  • They can learn to work independently, based on their own initiatives to build concentration and self-discipline

  • They are interested in and able to understand a wealth of information if it is available in manipulative, concrete experience

  • The foundation of all future learning and self-esteem is constructed in the early years

Child Centered Community


  • A mixed aged group - to learn from others and to help others learn

  • Strong relationships from 3 or 4 years in a room.

  • Learn to use common modes of social interaction and courtesy

  • Take responsibility for caring for their room

  • Develop an awareness of the rights and needs of the other people in the classroom

  • A thriving community where children are treated with respect and dignity and learn to treat others in the same way

  • Each child works and develops at own individual pace not in competition with others 

Prepared Environment - designed to facilitate maximum independence in learning and exploration for the child


  • Child sized furniture, materials and spaces

  • Ordered and uncluttered shelves which are organized into distinct areas

  • A wide variety of activities available for the child to select with ample opportunities for physical movement

  • Opportunities for individual lessons, small group and large group activities.

  • Classroom is a balance of freedom and discipline 

Montessori Materials - beautifully crafted and specifically included in the environment


  • The children may choose any activity for which they have had a lesson

  • Return to shelf when finished to be available for the next person

  • Each material isolates a "quality"

  • Materials are related to each other in a logical way and presented on the shelves in a logical sequence

  • Many materials are "self correcting" the child can see for him/herself that the work is complete without adult intervention

Practical Life: Skills of daily living -The child wants to learn how to do it for him/herself.


  • Caring for oneself - washing hands, zipping, combing, etc.

  • How to care for the environment - sweeping, polishing, cleaning, etc.

  • Development of social skills and relationships - greeting, serving, accepting, thanking - "grace and courtesies"

  • Movement with control and thoughtfulness

  • Simple tasks can be very meaningful and rewarding to children

  • Encourages, enables and fosters independence 

Sensorial Materials: Exploring the world - means of classifying and expressing the impressions they have received


  • Through sight, touch, taste, smell and sound children clarifies, classifies and begins to comprehend their world

  • Multiple senses are involved in each task

  • Materials are attractive and "call " to the child for exploration

Mathematics: From concrete to abstract - concrete materials allow the children explore seemingly sophisticated concepts


  • Materials are related and sequential

  • Many different activities to explore a concept

  • Concrete is always there and available to refer to

  • Materials create a mental impression for future development


Language: From Spoken to written - the whole room is an ode to spoken language the vocabulary is rich and the range is enormous


  • Language is the building block . It physically builds the brain's higher-reasoning centers

  • Materials are related and sequential and developmentally appropriate

  • The spoken word leads to encoding of symbols to communicate those words

  • Related to other areas of exploration 

Art and music as a part of everyday life - art materials are available in the room for self expression as a natural tool. Music gives a communal sharing and another means to learn about oneself and others

Relationship to the natural world - The room has plants and animals for the children to learn to nurture and become responsible for our great blue sphere

Role of the parent - The parent is the most important teacher for the child. No one knows or cares for your child as you do


  • The word educate comes from the Latin root meaning "to lead"

  • The school is an extension of the home 

The Montessori Educator - the teacher is an advocate for the child


  • The teacher encourages the inner motivation of the child. 

  • It is not about exterior "control" but helping the child to learn to control him/herself.

  • The teacher never unnecessarily interferes or corrects

  • The teacher wants the child to be successful