Dr. Montessori referred to the young child (from birth to six) as having an absorbent mind, in that children literally absorb information of all kinds from their environment effortlessly, much like a sponge. Montessori believed that, to develop the full potential of a young child, one must appeal to his instinctive love of and need for purposeful activity. She determined that the role of the adult is to carefully prepare a beautiful, rich environment that would allow children to meet their natural needs for movement, language development, independence, order, security and discipline.

Her uniquely designed materials enable children to reinforce impressions through hands-on experience and employ all of their senses to investigate their surroundings. Her method is designed to help children with their task of inner construction as they grow from childhood to maturity. It succeeds because it draws its principles from the natural development of the child. The goal of early childhood education should be to cultivate the child's own desire to learn.