Montessori Philosophy

Bells Montessori

Human Tendencies

According to the educational philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori the threads of commonality which unite all people everywhere are stronger than those which divide us. Regardless of culture, race or nationality Montessori recognized that human nature is universal and that the best educational system is one which works in harmony with a child’s innate curiosity. These “Human Tendencies” as Dr. Montessori called them are the natural creative impulses which Montessori education seeks to respond to and carefully nurture. A truly fulfilling educational framework must respond to the child’s inherent love of exploration and purposeful activity through order and repetition and the human desire to communicate with others. The Montessori philosophy recognizes these natural Human Tendencies and educates through them.

Sensitive Periods

It’s often said that “nobody learns as fast as a child”. This is in recognition of the widely acknowledged fact that children with their innate curiosity and quick absorbent minds learn fastest in early life. At this critical early stage of development the habits of a lifetime are formed. From birth to the age of six is the period when the child is most rapidly learning and adapting to the surrounding environment and therefore at his most sensitive. It is crucial that a stimulating and absorbing environment is provided to allow the child to develop the skills and qualities needed for a successful and well balanced life. Montessori education recognizes that this key developmental phase is when the foundations for crucial life skills such as language, order, coordinated movement, and refinement of the senses are acquired. When provided with a stimulating, interactive setting children learn almost effortlessly, it is highly important that this unique phase is grasped as once it is finished never again will the mind have such a high capacity to learn.

Absorbent Mind

To swim, to ride a bike, to play a violin, we’ve all seen how quickly and effortlessly a young child can learn a new skill. As we all know to truly speak a language natively we must be exposed to it from a very early age when the mind is at its most fluid. This critical period is from birth to the age of six and the opportunity must be grasped while it lasts. At this age children are fascinated by everything in the environment, they are natural scientists and explorers investigating all that surrounds them. Montessori education recognizes that providing a caring and nurturing environment is crucial to shaping a child’s perception of the world around her and instilling a positive love of learning.


In her intensive studies of children Maria Montessori observed the development of a psychological state in early childhood which she termed “normalization”. It is the formation of a child’s self-perception through sustained purposeful activity. This transformative period is when a child’s character and individual personality begins to emerge and creatively assert itself through interaction which the environment via tools and continued exploration. Careful nurturing at this phase is key to allow a child to develop to the fullest of his potential. A normalized child is characterized by self-confidence, passion and joy. With a burgeoning sense of personal identity, the normalized child begins to develop self-esteemed through realization of his own importance and his ability to make meaningful contributions to his social circle and the world around him.

Concrete to Abstract

Education through appealing to the child’s natural Human Tendencies is the philosophy of the Montessori methodology. In the early stage of development a child’s innate desire to explore the world around him through the senses is used as the guiding principle in shaping the most appropriate form of lessons. At this stage teaching takes simple concrete forms and gradually progresses towards increased levels of abstraction as the child’s mind matures. For example in the teaching of mathematics the link between the material world and that of pure mathematical abstraction is emphasized to the child by first introducing the concept in the sensorial form most familiar to a child via counting beads and number cards. Once mastered the child then progresses to the concept of arithmetic operations such as addition and subtraction involving the same materials. Finally the journey into pure abstraction is completed when the learning materials are removed and the child continues to learn independently. By carefully utilizing the child’s strengths at each stage of development learning becomes a joyful, spontaneous and natural activity for the child.