In The Absorbent Mind, Dr. Montessori wrote, “The most
important period of life is not the age of university
studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age
of six.  For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself,
his greatest implement is being formed.  But not only his
intelligence; the full totality of his psychic powers. At no
other ages has the child greater need of an intelligent
help, and any obstacle that impedes his creative work
will lessen the chance he has of achieving perfection.”

 Recent psychological studies based on controlled
research have confirmed these theories of Dr.
Montessori.  After analyzing thousand of such studies, Dr.
Benjamin S. Bloom of the University of Chicago, wrote in
Stability and Change in Human Characteristics, ”From
conception to age 4, the individual develops 50% of his
mature intelligence; from ages 4 to 8 he develops
another 30%..This would suggest the very rapid growth of
intelligence in the early years and the possible great
influence of the early environment of his development,”  
like Dr. Montessori, Dr. Bloom believes that “the
environment will have maximum impact on a specific trait
during the trait’s period of most rapid growth.”   As an
extreme example, a starvation diet would not affect the
height of an eighteen year-old, but could severely retard
the growth of a year-old baby.

 Since eighty percent of the child’s mental development
takes place before he is eight years old, the importance
of favorable conditions during these years can hardly be
over emphasized.
The importance of the early years
Sensitive Periods

Another observation of Dr. Montessori’s,
which has been reinforced by modern
research, is the importance of the sensitive
periods for early learning.  These are periods
of intense fascination for learning a particular
characteristic or skill, such as going up and
down steps, putting things in order, counting
or reading.  It is easier for the child to learn a
particular skill during the corresponding
sensitive period than at any other time in her
life.  The Montessori classroom takes
advantage of this fact by allowing the child
freedom to select individual activities which
correspond to her own periods of interest

 Although the entrance age varies in individual schools, a child can usually enter a Montessori classroom
between the ages of two and one half and four, depending on when she can be happy and comfortable in a
classroom situation.  She will begin with the simplest exercise based on activities which all children enjoy.  
The equipment which she uses al three and four will help her to develop the concentration, coordination and
working habits necessary for the more advanced exercises based on activities which all children enjoy.  The
equipment which she uses at three and four will help her to develop the concentration, coordination and
working habits necessary for more advanced exercises she will perform at five and six.  The entire program of
learning is purposefully structured.  Therefore, optimum results cannot be expected either for a child who