Maria Montessori says that "education begins at the moment of birth". She recognises in children, between 0 and 6 years old, a great capacity to absorb everything that surrounds them.
Therefore, if the child has the extraordinary gift to learn indirectly from the environment, the adult becomes responsible for creating an inspiring, attractive and supporting space to promote the child’s holistic development. In this scenario, each instant of the child and adult's life could become a magical moment of discovery and learning, for both. By observing the child, the adult can create a positive response to his needs and interests, introducing specific materials and interactions to enrich the child's experience.
The Montessori materials are objects created and prepared with natural resources, to support the development of the senses, such as wood, ceramics, other fabrics that are comfortable to the touch, and very precious resources. Through manipulating these elements, the child strengthens sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste; also, the child needs to use his hands to learn, Montessori states that "the hands are the instruments of man's intelligence".
The Montessori classroom supports the children to concentrate within a relaxing atmosphere by choosing specific and natural objects. Everything has a precise place through a minimalist approach: that supports simplicity, accessibility, logic and order! The materials are placed on trays or inside boxes, offering the child the opportunity to explore them on the table or a rug.
In this scenario, the adult becomes a present guide, ready to observe and support the child, leaving him/her space and time to explore and understand the materials; using observations as a powerful tool to understand the child's interests and interactions within the created environment and the available resources.
Through the free choice of materials, children are driven by a stronger motivation that guides their actions within the environment. The adult plays, again, an essential role in offering balanced support to the child. After a first introduction of the material, the child is free to explore the activity independently, and through a trial and error approach, can understand and solve little challenges, which support the creation of self-esteem.
Another fundamental aspect for the child's development is the freedom of movement: “the child learns by doing” (Dewey). Right from the start, it is necessary to recognise the importance for the child to move and discover the effects that his/her body can have within the environment; walking, running, climbing or simply lying on the grass to look at the sky are priceless actions.