Four Planes of Development

Montessori Toddler Teacher and StudentsMontessori Toddler Teacher and Students

SPMA offers education during 3 of the 4 planes of human development .

1. Preprimary and Primary – First Plane 0-6 Years Old

Dr. Montessori found that although young children passed through universal stages of development; they entered and exited ‘sensitive periods’ at different times. These blocks of time last only until a necessary need is fulfilled and then it passes.

Montessori felt that “traditional” education, in which children are asked to complete tasks at the same time, missed the opportunity and responsibility to respond to these ‘sensitive periods’ as a heightened time to have deep, meaningful learning experiences. Unlike “traditional” schools, children in Montessori are allowed freedom of movement and freedom of choice.

The Montessori Preprimary and Primary classrooms are prepared environments in which the children can follow their individual developmental path. The Montessori teacher is a trained observer that is ready to recognize and respond to each child’s developmental needs.

The materials in the classroom are unique to the Montessori method as is the beginning of the spiral of education that will follow the child through elementary. The child experiences concepts sensorally, discovering concepts through touch and manipulation. Unlike “traditional” classrooms, there are no teachers’ desks, and the entire environment is child sized and child centered.

2. Elementary – Second Plane 6-12 Years Old

The Elementary classroom is process, not product, driven. No grades or tests are given, children are held accountable for their knowledge through its use. By age six, most children have mastered all of the ‘sensitive periods.’ The Elementary Montessori classroom responds to the changing needs of a child this age.

The Elementary curriculum focuses on classification and hierarchies, concepts that are key to a child aged 6 to 12. Where “traditional” classrooms compartmentalize subject areas such as math and social studies, Montessori classrooms seamlessly integrate them allowing students to research and follow interests.

Montessori termed the Elementary curriculum Cosmic Education. Concepts are taught from largest scope to smallest, each adding detail and showing the interconnectedness of all things.

Unlike “traditional” methods, Montessori classrooms promote group work and social interaction; this is a social age for children. Montessori includes moral and social development in all of its curricula. As before, students begin learning concepts through concrete materials and gradually move to abstractions creating foundations for complex theories that will be required in older academic work.

3. Middle School – Third Plane 12-18 Years Old

Montessori observed that adolescents were in process of discovering themselves as individuals and finding their place in society. The Middle School curriculum integrates academics and community service for this reason.

4. Fourth Plane 18 Years Old to Adulthood

For more in-depth exploration of Montessori’s Planes of Development, please click here.