The Montessori approach to education relies on several fundamental principles:
Planes of Development – The way children grow
On the path from birth to adulthood, the child passes through several distinct phases. In each of these phases, he is not only physically different but he also has different psychological characteristics and therefore different developmental needs. At each phase, which Montessori called a ‘plane of development’, the child has such different physical and psychological characteristics that Montessori described the passing from one plane to the next as a ‘rebirth’, as if we have a new child at each new plane who will require a different environment just as the new born baby requires a different environment from the womb in which he has spent the last nine months.
Montessori called the first plane of development from zero to six years “Infancy”, that from six to twelve “Childhood”, from twelve to eighteen “Adolescence” and the final plane from eighteen to twenty-four “Maturity”. Many psychologists have described these 4 different planes but it is only Montessori who has given a way to respond to this knowledge as a means of education and in this way she has redefined education as an ‘aid to life’ saying that if we support the natural development of the child at each plane then we will optimise development for the whole human being. There is a particular time in the child’s life when the child is most able to take a particular developmental step. These opportunities must be grasped because when they are missed, the development that can take place later will never be as complete as if it had happened at the right moment.
The Montessori approach is…
The Montessori approach to education rests on the premise of supporting the tendencies and sensitivities of each individual as they present themselves as different developmental needs at each plane of development. This can be summarised in the following way:
- An environment that serves the particular needs of the child’s plane of development.
- An adult who understands the developmental needs of the child and acts as a guide to help the child find his/her natural path of development.
- Freedom for the child to engage in the child’s own development according to his own particular developmental timeline.
Taken from AMI Society UK website