Montessori’s dynamic theories included such revolutionary premises as:
- Children are to be respected as different from adults and as individuals who are different from one another.
- Children create themselves through purposeful activity.
- The most important years for learning are from birth to age six.
- Children possess unusual sensitivity and mental powers for absorbing and learning from their environment, which includes people as well as materials.
Montessori began carrying her message throughout the world, including in the United States, as early as 1912, and now, more than a century after her first casa dei bambini in Rome, Montessori education is found all over the globe, spanning ages from birth to adolescence.
Primarily, the purpose of the Montessori Method is to provide an environment where the innate abilities of the child can unfold spontaneously, encouraging the development of the person within, allowing the child to achieve his greatest potential. Maria Montessori stated, “The child is the father of the man.” As the child develops his inner self, a love of life and learning follows naturally.
The “prepared environment”: For self-directed learning to take place, the whole learning environment – room, materials and social climate – must be supportive of the learner. The teacher provides the necessary resources, including opportunities for children to function in a safe and positive climate. The teacher thus gains the children’s trust, which enables them to try new things and build self-confidence.
The teacher: Originally called a “directress,” the Montessori teacher functions as designer of the environment, resource person, role model, demonstrator, record-keeper and meticulous observer of each child’s behavior and growth.
The Montessori materials: Maria Montessori’s observations of the kinds of things children enjoy and go back to repeatedly led her to design a number of multi-sensory, sequential and self-correcting materials that facilitate the learning of skills and lead to learning of abstract ideas.