Montessori believed that her methods would prove even more effective with children of normal intelligence. In 1907 she opened the first Montessori school, or Children's House, in a slum district of Rome. Within a year, observers came from around the world to see the progress made by Montessoriís students. Before the age of five the children learned to read and write, they preferred work to play, and they displayed sustained mental concentration without fatigue.
Montessori based her educational method on giving children freedom in a specially prepared environment, under the guidance of a trained director. She stressed that leaders of the classroom be called directors rather than teachers because their main work was to direct the interests of children and advance their development. According to Montessori, when a child is ready to learn new and more difficult tasks, the director should guide the child from the outset so that the child does not waste effort or learn wrong habits.