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“Children must love everything they learn because their mental and emotional growth are intimately linked. Everything we introduce them to must be beautiful and clear.”

Maria Montessori

The field of early childhood education has, today, come to accept what Montessori discovered a long time ago: that a child under six has the mental absorption capacity worthy of a genius. The “absorbent mind” will never again have its miraculous ability to assimilate the mother tongue, perfect movement or internalize order after the age of six. This sensitivity will never again be as alive as during the preschool years.

The newborn child is tender and vulnerable, and in need of protection, love, friends and intellectual stimulation. These needs are real and profound. What a child requires is not to have these needs served directly—too much assistance can sometimes be a hindrance. As such, the Montessori prepared environment allows children to act freely on the basis of their own initiative and to meet their needs through individual and spontaneous activities.


Children learn to work peacefully and resolutely. They use the materials with a sense of perfection and order rarely perceptible even in adults. They develop concentration and personal discipline.

The scientifically designed materials enable children to acquire skills previously developed at a later stage. Reading and writing are approached as an extension to spoken language. Young children demonstrate an uncommon interest in mathematics and, by handling tangible materials, they can learn the four mathematical functions, including large numbers, even before age six. And since these children have an “absorbent mind,” the work seems to take place without effort or fatigue.

Children forming a community


The Montessori environment is not just a place for individual learning; it comprises different age groups. A child of three might be washing clothes. A four-year-old neighbour might be working nearby with a mobile alphabet. Further along, a five-year-old might be performing a division operation using beads. Some of the children will be chatting and working with friends. Others might be observing. The children work freely, and when they choose to complete their task, they put the materials away in the proper place. There is an array of activities and much movement in progress. A Montessori preschool class can be compared to a community of workers building a culture of mutual enrichment. A five-year-old reinforces what he or she has learned by teaching a younger child, who in turn is inspired to attempt more advanced activities by observing the work of the older children in the same environment.

At this age, children enjoy the social courtesies they need. For example, they take real interest in knowing how to welcome and greet others, shake hands and excuse themselves. They like to see people who are well dressed and to be well dressed themselves. Classrooms have mirrors positioned at their height, as well as specific personal grooming resources. Within this free environment, children learn to express the best of themselves by improving their social skills as they acquire good manners and respect for others.

Although children spend the greater portion of their time learning in class, individually or in small groups, the entire community of children takes part in collective activities at certain times during the day such as storytelling, music, rhythmic activities or physical education activities. When the children go outdoors for general motor skill activities, gardening or nature walks, each individual child’s unique needs merge into the framework of the entire vibrant community.