The Montessori approach offers a broad vision of education as an aid to life. It is designed to help children with their task of inner construction as they grow from childhood to maturity. It succeeds because it draws its principles from the natural development of the child. Its flexibility provides a matrix within which each individual child’s inner directives freely guide the child toward wholesome growth.
Montessori classrooms provide a prepared environment where children are free to respond to their natural tendency to work. The children’s innate passion for learning is encouraged by giving them opportunities to engage in spontaneous, purposeful activities with the guidance of a trained adult. Through their work, the children develop concentration and joyful self-discipline. Within a framework of order, the children progress at their own pace and rhythm, according to their individual capabilities.
The transformation of children from birth to adulthood occurs through a series of developmental planes. Montessori practice changes in scope and manner to embrace the child’s changing characteristics and interests.
- The first plane of development occurs from birth to age six. At this stage, children are sensorial explorers, constructing their intellects by absorbing every aspect of their environment, their language and their culture.
- From age 6 to 12, children become conceptual explorers. They develop their powers of abstraction and imagination, and apply their knowledge to discover and expand their worlds further.
- The years between 12 and 18 see the children become humanistic explorers, seeking to understand their place in society and their opportunity to contribute to it.
- From 18 to 24, as young adults, they become specialized explorers, seeking a niche from which to contribute to universal dialogue.
“I have studied the child. I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it and that is what is called the Montessori method.”