The Montessori “prepared environment” allows children to act freely on their own initiative, and to meet their own needs through individual spontaneous activity. The children use the materials they have chosen with a sense of perfection and order. This builds self-discipline and concentration.
In the preschool classroom, the “practical life” materials involve the children’s precise movement, allowing them to develop concentration and work at their own pace without being interrupted. The materials fulfill specific purposes for the child in the real world: they learn to master buttoning, tying, washing, and taking care of their environment in a safe, supervised classroom, all free from adult interference.
Children’s vocabulary increases from 100 words at 2 years old to several thousand at 6 years old. Vocabulary increases naturally without any teaching. Through classification, the children will be able to assimilate language in an orderly manner through the use of sandpaper letters: children are able to effortlessly link sounds, symbols, their shapes and their written formation. In Montessori schools, most children write before they read. Writing comes first because we are talking about their own composition of words. They might not know how to spell, but they write phonetically. Maria Montessori always encouraged words with written commands. At the stage of reading analysis, the children do quite a bit of dramatic or interpretive reading.
With the use of concrete materials, young children can be introduced to mathematical functions before the age of six. The children do not merely learn to count – they are able to visualize the whole structure of numbers through the use of beads, spindles, rods, counters, cubes and cards.
Children are naturally drawn to the sensorial materials because they appeal to their curiosity to explore and interact with their environment in a variety of ways. The sensorial materials are used to excite the five senses by naming, classifying, and differentiating.