Maria Montessori’s system of education is both a philosophy of child growth and a rationale for guiding such growth. The system is based on the child’s developmental need for freedom with limits and uses a carefully prepared environment. The prepared environment guarantees exposure to materials and experiences through which the child develops intelligence as well as physical and psychological abilities.
The Montessori Method is designed to take full advantage of the unique ability of young children to develop their own capabilities through self-motivation. We stress the need for trust in the child’s potential for self-development, the role of the teacher as a patient observer and guide, and the prepared environment featuring organized work in the atmosphere of responsible freedom.
The work in the Montessori prepared environment is ordered and sequenced by difficulty, teaching only one new concept at a time; and is to a large extent self-correcting. Each child’s space is defined (by a work rug, table or board), allowing the child the freedom to invite others to join in, or the option to work alone.
Because many children of different ages are working individually with the materials, there is no need for competition. It is common for older children to offer assistance to younger children, reinforcing their own feelings of self-esteem, as well as their understanding of the concepts or skills involved. Younger children look up to their senior classmates and learn much from them indirectly from observation. Each child relates primarily to his/her own work and their individual progress and is not compared to the achievement of others.