The most basic principle in the Montessori theory of education is that the learning capacities of a young child is fundamentally different from that of an adult. Unlike the adult the child appears to simply absorb, through activity, without effort, certain complete and precise abilities and skills with completeness and preciseness that the adult cannot even conceive of. Dr. Montessori called that unique early learning ability “The Absorbent Mind”.
According to Montessori, "A child's work is to create the person she/he will become." Children are born with special mental powers which aid in the work of their own construction. But they cannot accomplish the task of self-construction without purposeful movement, exploration, and discovery of their environment - both the things and people within it. They must be given the freedom to use their inborn powers to develop physically, intellectually, and spiritually. A Montessori classroom provides this freedom within the limits of an environment which develops a sense of order and self-discipline
Also basic to Montessori's philosophy is her discovery of Sensitive Periods in children's development. During these periods children seek certain stimuli with immense intensity, to the exclusion of all others. So it is during this time that a child can most easily master a particular learning skill. Dr. Montessori devised special materials to aid children in each Sensitive Period. It is the responsibility of the teacher to recognize these periods in individual children and put them in touch with the appropriate materials in the classroom environment.
The bright room, the furniture, and the Montessori materials together constitute only one half of the “Prepared Environment”. The other half is the adult. Montessori classrooms provide a prepared environment where children are free to respond to their natural tendency to work.The prepared environment offers the essential elements for optimal development. The key components comprise the children, teacher and physical surroundings including the specifically designed Montessori educational material. Montessori’s idea of the prepared environment was that everything the child came in contact with would facilitate and maximize independent learning and exploration.
This calm, well-ordered environment has a lot of movement and activity. Children are free to choose and work on activities at their own pace. Here, they experience a combination of freedom and self-discipline, as guided by the environment.Freedom; Structure and Order; Beauty; Nature and Reality; Social Environment; Intellectual Environment are the main areas in the Prepared Environment.