Montessori education is structured around four distinct planes of development where children in specific age groups share similar physical and cognitive traits. The classroom environment, curriculum and instruction are specially designed to meet these developmental stages. At NNM, we focus on the first three planes:
- First Plane of Development (0 to 6 years old)
- Second Plane of Development (6 to 12 years old)
- Third Plane of Development (12 to 18 years old)
- Fourth Plane of Development (18 to 24 years old)
First Plane of Development (0-6 years old)
Children possess an absorbent mind, taking in everything from their environment through listening, observing and imitating. Children have the ability to teach themselves. The classroom is designed to provide a beautiful, safe environment that is rich with language and appeals to the senses of the child. The teacher observes the physical, emotional and intellectual needs of your child and matches lessons and experiences accordingly.
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Second Plane of Development (6-12 years old)
Children at this stage are abstract rational thinkers. The classroom creates a community that enables collaborative work characteristic of the elementary child. Children are curious and active participants in their own learning. They often choose what their work is, where to do it, when to do it and with whom to do it. These choices develop independence and build confidence. Socialization is a key element of this plane and the classroom community provides a mini-society where children actively seek to find and create their place in the group.
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Third Plane of Development (12-18 years old)
Child at this stage are in the transition from childhood to young adulthood. Significant physical growth, self-scrutiny, impatient expectations, lack of self-confidence (often disguised as bravado), desire to belong, desire to contribute to society, questioning of rules and the belief that their experience cannot be understood by others characterize this period.
As an adolescent’s body is undergoing an amazing transformation, the adolescent’s mind and personality are changing radically as well. Their cognitive abilities improve in three major areas: thinking abstractly, thinking hypothetically and thinking about their own thought processes (meta-cognition).
The primary task of an adolescent is to form a coherent sense of self. While humans undergo significant identity changes throughout childhood, it is not until adolescence that we have the capacity to recognize these changes in ourselves. Forming an identity facilitates our ability to take on adult roles in society; if we know ourselves, we are better able to make choices about careers, religion, politics, and personal relationships.
Dr. Montessori stated, “Now is the time…when they should develop the noblest characteristics that would prepare a human to be social, that is to say, a sense of justice and a sense of personal dignity.” The development of these characteristics in a classroom, as well as in the urban environment beyond the classroom, is what NNM offers the 12-14 adolescent in the third plane of development.
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