Child using dustpan and brush cleaning in a Montessori classroom
20 September 2023 - 11:03am

“Humanity shows itself in all its intellectual splendour during this tender age, as the sun shows itself at the dawn, and the flower in the first unfolding of the petals; and we must respect religiously, reverently, these first indications of individuality.”  Dr Maria Montessori

As educators, our most important role is to closely observe and understand the incredible work of the child during their journey towards independence. By observing the unique unfolding of each child’s development, we will find that it is the child who will guide us in our teaching. We will see what the child needs next, we will understand when to prepare the next challenge and we will realise the importance of not interrupting a child during their intense moments of self-development.

The work of the child in the first three years is fundamentally leading towards independence. They achieve this through:

Sensory Experiences: exploring the world through their senses.

  • Auditory (hearing)
  • Tactile (touch)
  • Visual (sight)
  • Olfactory (smell)
  • Gustatory (taste)
  • Vestibular (This system involves the body’s sense of movement and gravity ie. where is the body in relationship to other objects- up, down, left, right, horizontal)
  • Proprioception (Through this system the child receives information from the muscles, joints, and tendons telling the body where it, or the particular body part, is at any given moment.)

Exploration and Experimentation

  • Object permanence
  • Gravity
  • Properties of solid and liquid
  • Cause and Effect


  • Spontaneous immersion of uninterrupted focus


  • Practise and repetition of self-help skills “help me to do it myself.”

Acquisition of Language

  • The child’s absorbent mind will learn language, sound, expression, intonation, grammar, meaning, cultural context.

Movement and motor control

  • Gross motor and fine motor control

If we reflect on the enormous task of the child to become an independent and fully capable human, we should be in awe of their capabilities and as educators we should feel privileged to support their journey. We should marvel at the miracle that is childhood. 

"His own self-development is his true, and only, pleasure." Dr Maria Montessori

Article by Barbara Langford.