The Montessori approach is designed to assist the child in acquiring the information from the environment to develop the social skills and self-confidence, which are needed to fulfill his own learning process.
Since the child can learn by a dynamic process in which the whole personality of the child must be actively engaged, he must have the freedom to handle materials which would demonstrate basic educational information to him or her.
As Dr. Montessori realized, the only valid impulse in learning is the self-motivation of the child. The teacher directs the activity, but the child is the one who learns and is motivated by the work itself.
The classroom is designed to adapt to the size, pace, and interests of boys and girls between the ages of two and six.
In The Absorbent Mind, Dr. Montessori wrote, “The most important period in life is the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself is being formed. At no other stage has the child greater need of an intelligent help, and any obstacle that impedes his creative work will lessen that chance he has of achieving perfection”.
Another observation of Dr. Montessori, which has been reinforced by modern research, is the importance of the sensitive periods for early learning. It is easier for the child to learn a particular skill during the corresponding sensitive period than at any other time in his or her life. The Montessori classroom takes advantage of this fact by allowing the child freedom to select individual activities that correspond to their own periods of interest.
The child will begin with the simplest exercises based on activities that all the children enjoy. The equipment, which he or she uses at the school, will help him/her develop the concentration, coordination and working habits necessary for the more advanced exercises he or she will perform at a later stage. The entire program of learning is purposefully structured. Therefore, optimum results cannot be expected either from a child who misses the early years of the cycle, or from the one who is withdrawn before he or she finishes the basic materials.
Because the children work individually with the materials there is no competition in the Montessori classroom. The children are not compared to the achievements of others.