The use of the materials is based on the child’s unique aptitude for learning which Dr. Montessori identified as the ‘absorbent mind’. In her writings she frequently compared the young mind to a sponge. It literally absorbs information from the environment. The process is particularly evident in the way two year-old learns his/her native language without formal instruction and without the conscious, tedious effort which an adult must make to master a foreign tongue. Acquiring information in this way is a natural and delightful activity for the young child who employs all his/her senses to investigate all his/her interesting surroundings.
Since the child retains this ability to learn by absorbing until he/she is almost seven years old. Dr. Montessori reasoned that child’s experiences could be enriched by a class room where he/she could handle the materials which would demonstrate basic educational information to him/her. Over sixty years of experience have proved her theory that the young child can learn to read, write and to calculate in the same natural way that he/she learns to talk and walk. In the Montessori classroom the equipment invites him/her to do this at his/her own periods of interest and readiness.
Dr. Montessori always emphasized that the hand is chief teacher of the child. In order to learn there must be concentration and the beat way a child can concentrate is by fixing his/her attention on some task he/she is performing with his/her hands. All the equipment in a Montessori classroom allows the child to reinforce his/her causal impressions by inviting him/her to use his/her hands for learning.