“Kids don’t stop asking questions because they lose interest. They lose interest because they stop asking questions.”
—from a Parent-to-Parent Argument for Montessori Education
the foundation for a lifetime of creative learning
The Montessori concept is a philosophy as well as an approach to educating the young child in a way that enables him to discover and develop his own unique talents. It helps the child build within himself, the foundation for a lifetime of creative learning.
The only valid impetus to learning is the self-motivation of the child. The teacher prepares the environment, directs activities and offers stimulation, but, ultimately, it is the child who learns and is motivated through the work itself to persist in his chosen task.
The Montessori child is free to learn because he has acquired, from exposure to physical and mental order, an inner discipline that is the core of Dr. Montessori’s education.
The Four Planes of Development
Maria Montessori always refers to the four planes of development. The planes are divided by sensitive periods where the learners are most able to internalize concepts.
Materials and presentations are geared to the sensitive periods and interests that are developmentally appropriate for a child at a given stage in their life. The Montessori school deals with the children in their first and second planes of development.
Four planes from birth to maturity
First Plane (0-6 years)
- Physical changes in growth and stamina
- Absorbent mind (like a sponge)
- Sensorial explorer
- Sensitive period for order
- Self-centered (reason for 1:1 presentations)
- Love for Language
Second Plane (6-12 years)
- Child’s reasoning mind takes over
- Research oriented
- Exploration of the universe
- Social being (reason for group presentations)
- Vivid imagination
- Abstracts from the concrete
- Morality checking
Third Plane (12-18 years)
- Sense of need of service in the community
- Explores needs of humanity
- Moves outward from family unit
Fourth Plane (18-24 years)
- Young adult
- Contributor to society
- Moves from home environment
THE FIRST PLANE OF DEVELOPMENT
Before the child enters the elementary environment, they have gone through the first plane of development. The first plane encompasses a sense of order that is external and the child self-oriented. Therefore, presentations are 1:1 which means Directress/Child. The child can imagine, but needs to be surrounded by realistic pictures, objects, and activities. This helps the child to make a distinction between things that are real and those that are fantasy. In this plane you are dealing with The Absorbent Mind, which takes in information like a sponge.
THE SECOND PLANE OF DEVELOPMENT
The child’s sense of order is now internalized. In this plane, the child has a Reasoning Mind, where the child’s vivid imagination enables the restless mind to explore beyond what is immediately accessible. The child has a need to know the how, why, and where behind things.
Maria Montessori describes imagination as a basic human faculty, which enables one to picture something that is not present in the immediate environment.
Through directress made impressionistic charts and The Five Great Lessons (stories told by the Directress which opens doors to all subject areas), the child’s imagination is sparked to know more.
The Five Great Lessons
- Creation Story
- Evolution of Life
- Coming of Man
- Communication through Signs
- History of Numbers
The Five Great Lessons are presented each school year in both the 6–9 (Lower Elementary) and 9–12 (Upper Elementary) classes. Each year, the children take different aspects of the great lessons to do further research. These lessons open many avenues to all subject areas. The Great Lessons are followed by Key Lessons.
Key Lessons are major items of information that have to be put before the child. These are more in depth lessons, which focus on one particular concept or subject. This enables the child to explore further avenues that have been opened up by the Directress. This in turn, gives the child tools for their exploration. If we attach the key lessons to the interests of the child, they begin to have freedom in class.
Maria Montessori was an Italian physician, educator, and innovator, acclaimed for her educational method that builds on the way children naturally learn.
She opened the first Montessori school—the Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House—in Rome on January 6, 1907. The youngsters were unruly at first, but soon showed great interest in working with puzzles, learning to prepare meals, and manipulating materials that held lessons in math. She observed how they absorbed knowledge from their surroundings, essentially teaching themselves.
Utilizing scientific observation and experience gained from her earlier work with young children, Maria designed learning materials and a classroom environment that fostered the children’s natural desire to learn. News of the school’s success soon spread through Italy and by 1910 Montessori schools were acclaimed worldwide.
Subsequently, she traveled the world and wrote extensively about her approach to education, attracting many devotees. There are now more than 22,000 Montessori schools in at least 110 countries worldwide with more than 4,000 in the United States.