Gables Montessori Blog

The role of the teacher

In a Montessori classroom there is no front desk or any teacher as a focal point of attention, because the simulation for learning comes completely from the environment. Dr. Montessori always refers to teacher as “director” and the role differs considerably from of a traditional teacher. The director is, above all, a very keen observer of individual interests and needs of each child, and the work is constantly based on observations rather than a prepared curriculum. The director shows the correct use of materials the children choose. Carefully observes the progress of each child in the class and maintains the history of his work with the materials.  The director is trained to recognize periods of preparation. Sometimes a child should divert the material chosen because it is beyond their capacity; on other occasions the director should encourage a child who does not dare. Whenever a child makes a mistake, the director lets him discover his own mistake through further manipulation of the material to create self-correction. This procedure follows the principle of Dr. Montessori ¨a child better learns through experience¨.

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The Montessori classroom is the child’s world, geared to the size, pace and interests of children between the ages of three and six. It is designed to put the child at ease, giving him freedom in an environment prepared with attractive materials. These materials are arranged on low shelves, thus  they can be reached even for the smallest child.

The tables and chairs in the classroom are movable, allowing a flexible arrangement for many activities. Children also work in small carpets on the floor where they are naturally comfortable.

The Montessori classroom materials can be divided into three main groups: Practical Life exercises, which are the first activities for children aged between three and four; Sensory materials that can be used by all ages in the class; and Academic materials waiting to be used at the time the child  shows any interest in reading, arithmetic and geography.

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Child learning to Maria Montessori

The level and type of intelligence are formed primarily during the first years of life. At age 5, the brain reaches 80% of its adult size. The plasticity of children’s education shows that the potential must be exploited starting early. Knowledge should not be introduced into the heads of children. By contrast, knowledge must be perceived by children as a result of their reasoning. The most important thing is to motivate children to learn comfortably and allow them to satisfy the curiosity and to experience the pleasure of discovering their own ideas instead of receiving knowledge from others.

Allow the child to find the solution of the problems. Unless it is very necessary, do not provide new knowledge from outside. It is better to allow children build it based on their specific experiences. With regard to competition, this behavior should be introduced only after the child had confidence in the use of basic knowledge. Maria Montessori says: “Never let the child to take the risk of failing until he has a reasonable chance to succeed.”

She thought it was not possible to create geniuses, instead of that, she believed in giving each person the opportunity to fulfill their potential to be an independent, safe and balanced human being. Another innovative concept of Montessori is that each child marks his own pace or speed to learn and that must be respected.

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The use of materials is based on the unique ability of young children to learn, which Dr. Montessori identified as the “absorbent mind.” In his writings frequently he compared the young mind to a sponge. Environmental information is literally absorbed. The process is particularly evident in the way in which a toddler learns his native language without formal instruction and without conscious effort and tedious adult must make to master a foreign language. Acquiring information in this way is a natural and enjoyable for the little boy who used all their senses to investigate his interesting surroundings activity.

Since the child retains this ability to learn by absorbing until it is almost seven years, Dr. Montessori thought his experience could be enriched in a classroom where he could handle materials that introduce basic educational information. More than 100 years of experience have proven his theory that a young child can learn to read, write and calculate in the same natural way to learn to walk and talk. In a Montessori classroom the equipment invites him to do so in their own interest and availability periods.

Dr. Montessori always emphasized that the hand is the chief teacher of the child. To learn there must be concentration, and the best way for a child can concentrate is by fixing his attention on a task that is carried out by hand. (The adult habit of doodling is a remnant of this practice). All equipment in a Montessori classroom allows the child to strengthen their casual impressions by inviting him to use his hands to real learning.

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The importance of the early years

In the Absorbent Mind, Dr. Montessori wrote: “The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first, the period from birth to six years That’s what is the time. yes the man’s intelligence, the most practical, is forming But not only his intelligence ; all of their psychic powers … in no other age has the child greater need of intelligent help, and any obstacles to its creative work will lessen the chance of having to achieve perfection ”


Modern psychological studies based on controlled research have confirmed these theories of Dr. Montessori. After analyzing thousands of studies, Dr. Benjamin S. Bloom of the University of Chicago, wrote in the Stability and Change in Human Characteristics, “From conception to age 4, the individual develops 50% his mature intelligence, from 4 to 8 years develops another 30% … this would suggest the very rapid growth of intelligence in the early years and the potentially large influence of the environment at the beginning of this development.


Like Dr. Montessori, Dr. Bloom believes “that the environment will have a maximum impact on a specific feature during this period fastest growing trait.” As an extreme example, a starvation diet would not affect the height of an eighteen years old, but can severely retard growth of an infant under one year of age. Since eighty percent of the child’s mental development takes place before he is eight years, the importance of favorable conditions during these years can hardly be over-emphasized.

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The Child

Dr. Montessori believed that every educator should “follow the child”, recognizing the evolutionary needs and characteristics of each age, and building a favorable environment, both physical and spiritual, to respond to these needs. Children’s development emerges as a need to adapt to his/her environment: the child needs to give a meaning to the world that surrounds him/her, and he/she constructs him/herself in relation to this world.

Maria Montessori observed that the child goes from infancy to adulthood through 4 evolutionary periods called “Planes of Development”. Each period presents characteristics that are radically diferent from the other periods, but each of them constitutes the foundation of the following period. In her book, The Absorbent Mind, Montessori explained that: “In the same way, the caterpillar and the butterfly are two creatures very different to look at and in the way they behave, yet the beauty of the butterfly comes from its life in the larval form, and not through any efforts it may make to imitate another butterfly. We serve the future by protecting the present. The more fully the needs of one period are met, the greater will be the success of the next.”

The first plane of development that starts at birth and continues until the child is 6 years old is characterized by children’s “Absorbent Mind”, which takes and absorbs every aspect, good and bad, from the environment that surrounds him/her, its language and its culture. In the second plane, from 6 to 12 years old, the child possesses a “rational mind” to explore the world with imagination and abstract thinking. In the third plane, from 12 to 18 years old, the teenager has a “humanistic mind” which desires to understand humanity and to contribute to society. In the last plane of development, from 18 to 24 years old, the adult explores the world with a “specialist mind”, finding his/her place in it.

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