Montessori material is based upon the children's particular ability to learn. Maria Montessori referred to it as "the absorbent mind". In her books she often compared young minds to sponges. A child´s mind literally absorbs the information from his surroundings. This process is particularly seen in the way a two year old child learns his mother tongue without formal training and without the effort a grownup must make to learn a second language. To acquire information this way is a wonderful and natural activity for the young child because he uses all his senses to investigate everything around him.
Kids retain this learning ability till the age of seven. For over 60 years Montessori's theory has proven that a small child can learn how to read, write, calculate and solve problems the same way he learns how to walk and talk. In a Montessori classroom the material drives children to learn this way; by themselves and when they are prepared to do so.
Another observation Dr. Montessori made and has been reinforced by modern investigation, is the importance of the learning periods of the early ages. These sensitive periods are related to a strong fascination for learning an ability or specific characteristic like going up or down stairs, putting things away, counting or reading. It is easier for a child to learn something during the given sensible period than at any other moment in his life. In Montessori schools this opportunity is taken advantage of, giving the children the freedom to choose the activities that are in accordance to their own learning periods. Managing their individual interests in the classroom they acquire the enthusiasm to learn at a very early age, which is the to become a truly educated adult.
“To aid life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself, that is the basic task of the educator.” -Maria Montessori