- Each child is a unique person with creative potential, the willingness to learn and the right to be treated with respect as an individual.
- Children are deeply affected by society and their immediate environment, so it is important to create an environment in harmony with the child’s natural development.
- Children must have the freedom to work and move around, in a setting that allows them to feel both autonomous and members of a group.
- Montessori materials help children explore and control their environment through activities that promote the development of the whole personality.
- Children are encouraged to work at their own pace, either individually or in cooperation with others.
- Mixed-age groups provide opportunities for children to develop their social skills in a harmonious community.
- Children are regularly observed by educators, either individually or in groups, to promote their development.
Maria Montessori based her method on what she defined as sensitive periods.
Sensitive periods are windows of opportunities during which the child has special sensitivities that facilitate learning in specific areas. This aptitude for easy and spontaneous learning lasts for a short period of time and ceases when the skill has been acquired.
In a Montessori environment the “absorbent mind” of the child is nurtured by specially designed sensorial material. Its manipulation allows children to explore the environment through their five senses, to focus their attention and to develop their concentration.Individual work of concentration leads to social awareness. The child goes to others with peace.
The role of the educator
Maria Montessori emphasized “a new attitude of the educator.” The latter must reveal the hidden potential in each child and help them through their work. The educator only intervenes if necessary, after careful observation of the child and the environment. The educator presents the materials to each child individually and does not lecture.