Montessori identified 4 planes of development on the child’s passage from birth to adulthood.
- In the first plane from birth to age six, the child is characterised by his or her “absorbent mind’, absorbing all aspects of his or her environment, language and culture.
- In the second plane from age six to twelve, the child uses a “reasoning mind to explore the world with abstract thought and imagination.
- In the third plane from twelve to eighteen, the adolescent has a “humanistic mind” eager to understand humanity and the contribution he or she can make to society.
- In the last plane of development, from age eighteen to twenty-four, the adult explores the world with a “specialist mind” taking his or her place in the world.
It is the principles and practices of plane one of development which are applied at the Southbank Montessori Childcare Centre.
First principle. The Absorbent Mind.
- Montessori believed that an infant possesses the capacity to absorb the
environment simply by being in it. She used the way the child learns to speak as an
example of this.
- Montessori believes that the first three years are those of unconscious absorption.
- We don’t know that the child has been absorbing things from the environment until the child brings them to a conscious level e.g. says his/her first word.
- All of a baby’s impressions are registered by his senses. The child touches everything, examines it minutely and puts it in his mouth.
- From about the age of three the child brings what he/she has already and continue to absorb to a conscious level
- The child now begins to classify impressions e.g. colour red into shades of red.
- This sub stage which lasts until about the age of six is characterised by the acquisition of language and the mastery of physical movements.
Second Principle – Sensitive Periods for Learning
- Montessori believed that there are sensitive periods for learning in which the child will learn effortlessly.
- Once they have passed the learning can still be done but it is with effort only.
- These are now known as windows of opportunity and have been validated by recent brain research findings.
From zero to six years the child is sensitive to:
- Acquiring Language
- Social Aspects of Life
- Small Objects
- Learning Through the Senses.