He has a unique personality, pace of life, qualities and potential difficulties. All the children go through sensitive periods. During these periods, the child processes plenty of learning. If the child is helped at this moment, the learning is deeply assimilated. But, if the child does not find the elements (in the classroom and material) which answer his need at this very moment, the sensibility will gradually disappear.
Maria Montessori is convinced that the strength needed for development is a part of every living being and that the role of an education is to keep that spontaneity and distance everything that might weaken that strength and keep it from blooming.
The child has to build a personality for himself and develop his motor and intellectual skills. That is why the teacher has to have a complete trust in the child’s strengths, to respect his freedom to act and maintain a positive climate, essential for his development. The teacher must be able to notice the different paces of the child, he has to know every child by showing interest and respect.
For example, he tries to crawl, then to stand, then to walk. But, he also willingly comes towards the adult when he needs help. Maria Montessori recommends to follow this natural initiative for teaching. The adult demonstrates then lets the child reproduce the operation alone.
The main resources used in the Montessori method of education to enhance independence are:
Rather different from the classic posture: once they gave a lesson, they maintain their presence as observers, only available if the child shows clearly that he needs assistance or more information. After a while, the child even works alone without the presence of the adult, after he chose and took by himself the material off the shelves, adapted to his size.
At no point the teacher tries to speed the process. It does not give the answers, does not take the material or pencil of the child’s hands to show him again or to give him the solution.
The final goal being to avoid that these actions, seen as a failure for the child, make him lose confidence in his capacity to succeed by himself.
The esthetic also plays a role. The color, the attractive aspect and the variety of objects, cards, shapes, are meant to captivate the attention and often constitute the child’s main interest, his motivation in the activity.
According to Maria Montessori, it is indeed unrealistic to believe that the child’s interest point is the same as the adult’s (learn the addition, discover what is the point to an adverb, etc.).
The control of error can be for example, the comparison of a shape the child built with a reference shape (with the sensorial material or in geometry) or by the use of control boards (for the four operations) or by checking index sheets “completed” after having worked on “empty” index sheets (for language).
The intention is to allow the child to discover and to overcome his errors by avoiding the teacher’s evaluation.
The time spent by very young children on preliminary activities as folding, pouring, pilling up, carrying, etc. which appear to be obvious or easy and are sometimes neglected, is used by the child to learn to coordinate his movements, to associate his view and his gesture, to concentrate, to organize his work.
Then, the academic learning (math, language, etc.) will be natural and easily assimilated.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of all the celebrities that have benefited from a Montessori education:
There is also the inventor of the Sims, developer of Spore and SimCity: Will Wright.
More recently, prince George, son of Kate and William had his very first school experience in a Montessori nursery.