Dr. Montessori pioneered most of what we take for granted today concerning early childhood: the crucial importance of the first 6 years of life, how a child learns by absorbing knowledge through the senses, the young child’s inner need for purposeful activity, the importance of movement and independence to learning, the joy of self-discovery, even child-size furniture and learning environments.
Montessori made the revolutionary discovery that children learn through their senses and through movement, absorbing sensory impressions to build their intelligence as they explore their environment.
Participation in a mixed-age community provides many role models for learning, and develops respect for the feelings, ideas and different abilities and cultures of others. All children experience the opportunity to learn from, and pass on their knowledge to, each of the others. In this non-competitive atmosphere, mutual help and cooperation arise spontaneously. Free to talk and move around, they develop not only an astounding physical grace and control of movement but a true social community.
Repetition of the exercises develops concentration and inner calm. The self correcting materials allow the children to discover and correct their own errors.
While Montessori children often may read, write and work arithmetic problems before 5 years of age, the emphasis is not on academic achievement but on development of each child’s unique potential. Lessons are given individually or in small groups to meet the needs of each child as they arise.
Montessori provides an environment to nourish the child’s developing spiritual sense as well, through educating our children for peace and for stewardship of the Earth.