One of the key components of the Montessori philosophy is the belief that children go through ‘4 Planes of Development’ before reaching maturity.

They are divided as follows:

1st Plane of Development – INFANCY: 0-6 years old

2nd Plane of Development – CHILDHOOD: 6-12 years old

3rd Plane of Development – ADOLESCENCE: 12-18 years old

4th Plane of Development – ADULTHOOD: 18-24 years old

Each one of these planes of development are then sub-divided into three year age ranges, which is how we get the three year age groupings in our authentic Montessori schools. Every child, in every continent, country, city, town, etc. will exhibit specific characteristics that are distinct to what plane of development they are in. Based on these universal characteristics in each plane of development, the Montessori curriculum was developed in order to meet each child’s needs and provide rich, comprehensive, fun, all-inclusive learning environments.

Our Parent Education focus last month was on the Upper Elementary class – the 2nd Plane of Development – and how children in this 2nd sub-phase (9-12 years old) are moving more and more towards independent thought and action.

The purpose of the Upper Elementary program is to lead the students to abstract work. The typical Montessori materials are present, however they are used at this level to promote classification and organization of information. Students continue to learn through experience and discovery, by exploring the wider community through outings and volunteer work. Children use their imagination as they seek to bring order to the various disconnected facts and ideas they encounter in the world. Dr. Montessori believed that this is also a time of great moral development. Children in the Montessori Upper Elementary program are no longer concerned with right or wrong/good or bad, rather they now seek to understand the motivation behind the behaviour. By the end of the Upper Elementary Montessori program students have become independent learners who have learned how to learn.

Children in their 4th year of the Montessori Elementary class are generally:

  • Energetic
  • Enjoy rough and tumble play
  • Easily motivated and enjoy trying new things
  • Untidy
  • Have a strong sense of humour
  • Have a strong sense of justice and injustice
  • Have collections of ‘things’

Children in their 5th year of the Montessori Elementary class are generally:

  • Happy and friendly
  • Truthful and have a positive approach to life
  • Tend to be obedient
  • Form good personal relationships with teachers and adult role models
  • Are quick to anger, but forgive just as quickly
  • Are talkative and like to explain things
  • Have increased ability to think abstractly

Children in their 6th year of the Montessori Elementary class are generally:

  • Heading towards adolescence and developing the means to handle peer pressure
  • Have a wide range of emotions and can be moody or easily frustrated
  • Have high energy
  • Are developing their adult personalities
  • Find peers more important than teachers
  • Can see both sides of an argument; like to debate
  • Tends towards sarcasm
  • Can set realistic, short-term goals

How can we help these children? Montessori teachers and parents can help children in the late Second Plane of Development by providing:

  • A secure and understanding environment
  • A well-organized day
  • Recognition for efforts and accomplishments
  • A sense of belonging
  • Ample outdoor time focused on coordination activities
  • A choice in activities and decisions
  • Encouragement to try new activities
  • Encouragement to finish what they start