Dr. Maria Montessori, the first woman physician to graduate from the University of Rome, studied the development of children and created a theory of education that children are inherently self-motivated learners. She believed that this quality could best be developed and nurtured in a carefully prepared environment filled with appropriate materials and activities which support active learning. In this environment, children are free to develop self-esteem, confidence, independence, and a love for learning that provides a solid foundation for life.
One basic idea of the Montessori philosophy is that carried, unseen within each child, is the person the child will become. To develop the fullest physical, spiritual, and intellectual potential, the child must have freedom-achieved through order and self-discipline.
The Montessori child is free to learn because of having slowly acquired an inner discipline from exposure to both physical and mental order. This is the core of the philosophy. Habits of concentration, perseverance and thoroughness established in the early years will produce a confident and competent learner in later years.
Maria Montessori proposed presenting the whole universe to the child in the elementary years. The universe holds within it the answers to all questions. Such an all-inclusive context can meet the challenge of the child's great intellectual curiosity and strength at this age. The power of imagination is what educates.
In a traditional education setting, children accumulate isolated bits and pieces of knowledge with no way of relating one to another. By giving children the universe as a context for learning, Montessori education stimulates their power of reason to search for the connections between all things.
Montessori introduces children to the joy of learning at an early age and provides the framework in which individual and social discipline go hand in hand.