Below are some of excerpts quoted in a recent article, “Authentic Montessori: The Dottoressa’s View at the End of Her Life – Part I: The Environment,” published by Lillard & McHugh in the Journal of Montessori Research (Spring 2019).
“I have studied the child. I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it, and this is what is called the Montessori Method.” (Montessori, 1961/2007, p. 2)
“One of the most urgent endeavors to be undertaken on behalf of the reconstruction of society is the reconstruction of education. It must be brought about by giving children the environment that is adapted to their nature.” (Montessori, 1949/1974, p. 100)
Regarding the physical/material environment:
“[A teacher must] conscientiously prepare an environment, placing educational materials about for some clear purpose and introducing the child with great care to the practical work of life” (Montessori, 1956, p. 76)
“[Furnishings in the 3-6 classroom should be selected to suit the children’s abilities, including] … light furniture that he can carry about; low dressers within reach of his arms; locks that he can easily manipulate; chests that run on castors; light doors that he can open and shut readily; clothes-pegs fixed on the walls at a height convenient for him; brushes his little hand can grasp; pieces of soap that can lie in the hollow of such a hand; basins so small that the child is strong enough to empty them; brooms with short, smooth, light handles; clothes he can easily put on and take off himself; these are surroundings which invite activity, and among which the child will gradually perfect his movements without fatigue, acquiring human grace and dexterity. (Montessori, 1917/1965, p. 151)
“One of the problems of teaching is thus to discover the subjects best suited to children of different ages…, to their different interests. Our experience has demonstrated, for instance, that children are much more interested in learning the alphabet [and writing] at age four than at any other age.” (Montessori, 1972, p. 96)
“We must not abandon the child to a haphazard choice of objects…. He will try to understand this world, so we must give [a] beautiful, rich environment where a child can be free to choose whatever is necessary for his development.” (Montessori, 2012, p. 179)
Regarding access to nature (the natural environment):
“A child, who more than anyone else is a spontaneous observer of nature, certainly needs to have at his disposal material upon which he can work…. Children have an anxious concern for living beings, and the satisfaction of this instinct fills them with delight. It is therefore easy to interest them in taking care of plants and especially animals.” (Montessori, 1962/1967, pp. 70–71)
On the temporal environment:
“Our schools start with three to four hours of work and remain open longer and longer. Children begin to come in the afternoon. Then both the teacher and the children begin to get enthusiastic and remain a few hours longer in school.” (Montessori, 2012, p. 192)
On the social environment:
“The charm of social life is in the number of different types that one meets…. To segregate by age is one of the cruelest and most inhuman things one can do…. It breaks the bonds of social life, deprives it of nourishment…. It is an artificial isolation and impedes the development of the social sense.” (Montessori, 1967/1995, p. 226)
“We cannot treat children the same way in the different developmental periods. They do not need the same care, the same environment, the same methods. If education is to be based on life, it must be adapted to all these differences.” (Montessori, 2012, p. 24)
“In its best condition the class should have between thirty and forty children, but there may be even more in number. That depends on the capacity of the teacher. When there are fewer than twenty-five the standards become lower, and in a class of eight children it is difficult to obtain good results. The really profitable results come when the number grows; twenty-five is a sufficient number, and forty is the best number that has been found.” (Montessori, 1989, pp. 64–65)
On adult visitors:
“When we have visitors [they] come as guests and we expect them to respect our children as guests respect their hosts…. Guests do not ask, “what are you doing?,” “why did you do that?,” “what does this mean?” [Such questions] can destroy the child’s sense of independence.” (Montessori, 1989, p. 8)
Montessori, M. (1961/2007). What you should know about your child (A. G. Prakasam, Trans.). Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Montessori-Pierson.
Montessori, M. (1949/1974). Childhood education. Chicago, IL: Henry Regnery.
Montessori, M. (1956). The child in the family (N. R. Cirillo, Trans.). New York, NY: Avon.
Montessori, M. (1917/1965). Spontaneous activity in education: The advanced Montessori Method (F. Simmonds, Trans.). New York, NY: Schocken.
Montessori, M. (1972). Education and peace (H. R. Lane, Trans.). Washington, DC: Henry Regnery.
Montessori, M. (2012). The 1946 London lectures. Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Montessori-Pierson Publishing.
Montessori, M. (1962/1967). The discovery of the child (M. J. Costello, Trans.). New York, NY: Ballantine.
Montessori, M. (1989). The child, society, and the world: Unpublished speeches and writings (Vol. 7). Oxford, England: Clio.
Montessori, M. (1967/1995). The absorbent mind (C. A. Claremont, Trans.). New York, NY: Henry Holt.