Italian born Maria Montessori (1870-1952) began studying children as a medical doctor. Through scientific observation, Dr. Montessori learned that children develop cognitive skills in a nurturing environment filled with materials that stimulate their interest. She developed the Montessori Method based upon essential observable tenets:
- Children's minds absorb information at an unprecedented rate from the age of birth to six years.
- Children love to interact with people and objects in their environment and enjoy pursuing purposeful independent activity.
- Children respond well to a cooperative and nurturing environment.
- Children cultivate respect for children and adults when treated respectfully by others.
Montessori's educational philosophy, although decades old, is recognized around the world as a progressive approach that leads to a lifetime of academic excellence. As Montessori stated, "Education is not something which the teacher does…It is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his [or her] environment."