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Montessori principles

EsF initiatives demonstrate that Montessori principles can be applied in highly diverse contexts.

What we do

We support global initiatives

We inspire and support diverse global Montessori initiatives for children and families, guiding them towards sustainability, expansion, and replication.

We promote children's rights

We are committed to transcending borders in order to promote the rights of the child throughout the world.

We connect changemakers

We bring people together to support the application of Montessori principles in under-resourced contexts.

Montessori education

Montessori is a child-centred and child-led method of education that holistically embeds children’s rights. It is a method that is designed to support the child’s intellectual, physical, emotional and social development through active exploration, choice and independent learning.

Children are given the freedom to choose what they work on, where they work, with whom they work, and for how long they work on any activity, all within the limits of the class rules. No competition is set up between children, and there is no system of extrinsic rewards or punishments.

The aim of Montessori education is for the child’s optimal development, intellectual, physical, emotional and social, to unfold. In the document below you can find concrete examples of how the Montessori Method and materials support Children’s Rights, with emphasis on child participation created by Edwina Mulcahy, AMI Primary and Elementary qualified teacher and M.Ed.

Download full resource document

Montessori principles

EsF promotes the social mission of Montessori and takes an approach which is based on Montessori Principles. EsF strives to explore innovative ways in which Montessori principles can be applied whilst guaranteeing their quality and authenticity. EsF initiatives demonstrate that Montessori principles can be applied in all kinds of contexts, beyond the classroom and beyond childhood. At the core are Montessori’s foundational principles of human development: The Human Tendencies, Fundamental Needs and Planes of Development.

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If you would like to support the work of EsF financially, you can donate to EsF. Your donation will support EsF to continue building capacity to improve access to quality Montessori education for more children around the world. EsF shares regular updates on different initiatives, elaborating on the way donations are spent and the impact it has made.

Human tendencies

Human tendencies exist throughout life. Through the full exercise of these tendencies, human potential can be fully realised. There is not a definitive list nor a specific way of describing the concept of human tendencies, however, humans do tend towards spontaneously acting in a certain way, in order to ‘self-construct’, adapt to their environments and contribute to their societies.

Human Tendencies urge us to:

  • seek to Orientate ourselves
  • express our Curiosity and engage in Exploration
  • extract Order and Meaning from our surroundings
  • engage in meaningful Activity or Work/Manipulation/ Movement
  • give our full attention – Concentration
  • Communicate and express ourselves to develop connection
  • strive for Independence whilst developing Self-Control
  • seek out others (to be Gregarious) and develop a sense of belonging
  • to develop, refine and elevate our capacities – Self-Perfection through Exactness/Precision
  • Imitate what we see around us and use our capacity for Abstraction and symbolic representation to nurture our Creative Imagination
  • Refine ourselves through Repetition and the capacity to Calculate and discriminate

Fundamental needs and planes of development

EsF initiatives are mindful of the fundamental needs for human development which includes material needs (food, shelter, clothing, etc) but also spiritual needs (art, religions, education, etc).

EsF initiatives are mindful of the planes of development and the characteristics and needs across these planes. The composition and age of the group they work with guides the approach to their work.

You can learn more about the planes of development at