Dr. Maria Montessori, the creator of “The Montessori Method of Education,” devoted her life to developing a philosophy of education emphasizing the importance of the child’s early years. As the first woman physician to graduate from the University of Rome, she became involved with education as a doctor treating children labeled as unteachable. She treated even the smallest child with a respect that amounted almost to reverence. In 1906 she was invited to open a daycare center for the children of desperately poor families in the San Lorenzo slums of Rome. She called it “A Children’s House,” and developed an environment geared to the size, pace and interest of the boys and girls between the ages of three and six.
Dr. Montessori described the function of education as an “Aid to Life.” Her dynamic theories included such revolutionary premises as children are to be respected as different from adults and as individuals who are different from one another, children create themselves through purposeful activity, and the most important years for learning are from birth to age six. “The task of the child,” said Dr. Montessori “is to construct a man, oriented to his environment, adapted to his time, place and culture.” She emphasized two main points: first, it is the duty of the teacher to help rather than judge; and rudimental work does not exhaust, but rather gives nourishment.