Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870 and became the first female medical doctor. She worked and observed children who were supposedly un-teachable in Rome. Through observation and her scientific background she developed the Montessori materials that are found in Montessori schools and day nurseries worldwide.
Montessori believed that if the child was given the freedom to explore the world around them through their senses, rather than being told by an adult, that the child was more likely to develop a sense of joy for learning, which in turn would develop the child's confidence and understanding of the world in which they live in.
A child in a Montessori day nursery will be found selecting their own activities from the open shelving, then trying the activity for themselves, with the adult there to guide and support the child in their chosen interest.