Maria Montessori, who lived from 1870 to 1952, was one of the first women physicians in Italy, as well as an original educator, scientist, humanitarian, and philosopher. Her approach to education was based upon her scientific observations of children, more than 100 years ago.
Dr. Montessori carried her message across the globe, including the United States in 1912. Today, parents continue to choose Montessori because they see their children thriving in the learning environments that Maria Montessori envisioned.
During her lifetime and through her interactions with children, especially those under the age of three, Montessori determined that children are active from conception on in their own self-construction. Their mental powers are taking in information, which they integrate, and as they develop motor control, they are able to utilize their physical body to interact and connect through their direct experiences.
She believed that young children learn naturally, and she created learning environments where they were free to move and explore from their own inner direction. Through her own observations of this freedom, she adapted and added to the environment in order to match the child’s interests and needs.
Within this freedom, children were able to choose and work on activities at their own pace, as guided by the physical surroundings. This method supported the brain’s innate tendencies towards seeking optimal developmental learning opportunities.
She determined that supporting this ‘free’ child was dependent on the adult’s willingness and ability to facilitate the child’s inner guide, and to prepare a dynamic and child centered environment, which meets the innate needs of the child.
She believed that the young child has a unique and extremely powerful capacity for learning, much different from an adult. She felt that children appear simply to absorb, through activity, but without effort, certain abilities and skills, and this self-creation happens by the child’s simply living in and absorbing the surrounding environment.
Our task, as adults, is to serve this power of the absorbent mind, which we cannot create or manage, through the preparation of a world enriched with interactions and activities that encourage the natural exploration of the child.