The Montessori method is an education method that focuses on the child by observing the way he acts and his reactions.

The growth period between birth and 6 years old is crucial, it is the moment when the child builds his personality through environmental experiences, which must be adjusted to his physical needs (size, strength) and through his extraordinary ability to assimilate. In a Montessori school, the child learns to develop his logical thinking skills and to meet his need for contact with reality. This is how he progresses.

According to Maria Montessori, the child uses two internal mechanisms in order to develop: sensitive periods and an absorbent mind.

The absorbent mind.

The absorbent mind is the way in which the child adjusts to his surroundings.

Maria Montessori compares the child to a sponge that sucks in information around him, from his direct environment (smells, sounds, noises). She says that “the child absorbs the world around him”.

To her, children are natural explorers, curious and interested, who know how to learn spontaneously from their surroundings.

Sensitive periods

If the child is not upset, he goes through several phases during which he is particularly sensitive to something or to an activity. He develops a passion for these activities and at the same time, specific skills.

The sensitive periods are some of the most important discoveries of Maria Montessori. They are particular and momentary interests that arise when people grow. They are fleeting and limited to specific acquisition like order, movement, sensory refinement, language and social behavior.

The child’s development doesn’t happen regularly but sporadically. Once this period is over, interest fades and the opportunity to naturally achieve something is lost forever. The educator must notice these sensitive periods.

It is this discovery that led Montessori teaching to naturally focus on letting the child make his own work choices.

There are several sensitive periods:

  • The sensitive period of movement: the child uses this moment to come in contact with his surroundings, to discover others and the world.
  • The sensitive period of acquisition of language: around two years old, speech emerges and we notice an explosion of words and this period will last until 7 years old.
  • The sensitive period of sensory refinement: with the development of the senses, the child assesses the world around him and organizes perceptions he has absorbed.
  • The sensitive period of social behavior: between 3 and 6 years old, he discovers the rules of society and learns to control himself. Around 5/6 years old, he accepts the rules of his group.
  • The sensitive period of order: it is the time for personal growth, logical thinking and personal security.
  • The sensitive period of interest in small objects: contrary to adults, very young children have the ability to notice the small details of their surroundings.

The material created by Maria Montessori allows the child to respond to these different periods in the best way.


According to Maria Montessori, it is more beneficial to act on his surroundings than on the child himself. For example, speaking in a softer volume to guide him to do the same instead of ordering him to do so. Or, to put a shoe shelf within his reach instead of asking him to put them away or go get them in a closet.

Therefore, each element of the surroundings can send him a message that he naturally understands.


It doesn’t matter whether the child is fast or slow as long as he is focused.

The Montessori pedagogy emphasizes the need to respect each child’s pace and advises not to label the child (“you are slow”, “you are fast”), in order not to lock him into these traits.

In fact, Maria Montessori noticed that each person’s pace can vary according to moments in the day, the activity or different phases of his development, which explains why children learn sporadically.

That is why respect for pace is important.


Even though Montessori schools promote freedom, nothing is more organized and disciplined than a Montessori school.

It is an essential notion in Montessori pedagogy. Children are free to choose the activity they wish to do among the ones offered but only if it has already been prepared by the educator.

They can spend as much time as they like on this activity, they can also speak (without bothering others), move around in the classroom as they wish, as long as the work environment is respected.

For Maria Montessori, “exterior discipline can only be efficient after interior discipline is established. ” On the contrary, discipline in the face of authority brings resistance and prepares an immediate or delayed reaction.

According to her, there must be a link between movement and intelligence.

Freedom to choose activities brings the child to this interior freedom, which brings him to concentration and acceptance of the law.