Nature allows a certain time to learn each thing. Maria Montessori called these "sensitive periods". If this time is not used, it is lost. It does not come again. If the sensitive periods are wasted, the foundation is not there; it is more difficult for the child and those who teach the child.
The Montessori system of education provides an environment rich in activities for every area of learning. Montessori called her schools "casa dei bambini" or "the children's home". In their home away from home our children find rooms full of mystery, challenge and discovery.
In the Practical Life shelves, children find washing, polishing, pouring, brushing, folding and sewing;
in theSensorial shelves, texture, color, sound, taste and smell;
in the Numbers shelves, quantity and mathematical ideas;
in the Language shelves, vocabulary, expression, writing and reading.
At the same time, they are encouraged to look outside; to be aware of countries, continents and beyond; and doing the prehistoric time line helps them to understand the concept of time - from the ancient to the present.
The children retain their freedom. They choose their own work and may repeat an activity as often as they wish. This freedom contributes to their self-confidence and independence. The teacher will guide and introduce them to new activities and ideas but will not coerce them into areas for which they may not yet be ready. To do so is to risk halting their progress.
No matter which shelf the children enter they will find equipment that works on more than one level. In the Numbers shelves the Golden Beads teach simple numeric; but the Cube of 1000 is made up of 1000 Golden Beads and is therefore exactly 1000 times as big as one bead. This allows mathematical ideas to form.
Children are not made to understand the formula. But in using the cube in a mathematical way, they build up a predisposition to enjoy and understand mathematics later.
In the same way the Cylinders show that whether shallow and wide or narrow and deep they each displace the same volume; but simply playing with them prepares and strengthens the children's fingers for holding a pencil later on.
In the Language shelves the children's first introduction to the alphabet is via sandpaper letters. Feeling the roughness of the letter and the smoothness of the background card is something children enjoy; but in this activity is being created the knowledge of the shape of the letter and its sound, and of simple words - all leading to reading and writing.
In the Biology shelves, matching the pictures to the story of, say, the conker or the snail teaches the children how to observe; but the story itself teaches them the fundamentals of the life cycle.
The Montessori method is a dynamic and complete approach to the enrichment of young children and as such represents the very best that a parent can give during these formative years.