"This kind of school is not of a fixed type, but may vary according to the financial resources at disposal and to the opportunities afforded by the environment. It ought to be a real house; that is to say, a set of rooms with a garden of which the children are the masters."
- Dr. Maria Montessori, Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook
Dr. Maria Montessori created what she called “the prepared environment.” Among its features is an ordered environment of sequential learning materials, designed to be developmentally appropriate and aesthetically appealing. Used in the non-competitive Montessori classroom, the materials allow each child to develop at his/her own pace. “Never let the child risk failure until he has a reasonable chance of success,” said Dr. Montessori, understanding the need to acquire basic skills before participating in a competitive learning situation. The years between three and six are not only the prime time for laying an academic foundation, but most importantly the years when a child learns the ground rules of human behaviour most easily. These are the years to help a child in preparing to take his/her place in society through acquisition of good habits and manners. Dr. Montessori recognized that self-motivation is the impulse to learning. The teacher prepares the environment, offers activities, functions as a reference person and exemplar and observes the child constantly in order to help the process of “learning how to learn.” But it is the child who learns, motivated through the work itself, to persist in a chosen task.