Montessori education, based upon the scientific discoveries and observation made by Dr. Maria Montessori, is an approach to human development designed to support the development of every potential. It is often referred to as “Education as an Aid to Life”, which ideally begins at birth and continues throughout the course of development. This approach is a universal one tested by time and hence is the single largest pedagogy in the world.
The Four Planes of Development is Dr. Maria Montessori’s theory, based on her observation, on the developmental stages the human being goes through during the first twenty four years of life. These developmental periods or level have distinct developmental tasks and ideal conditions for learning. Her theory was that these stages are holistic and include physical, emotional, social, intellectual, moral and spiritual development of the whole person. While each individual will pass through these planes in their own unique way, and at different rates, it is important that the help given is complementary to the developmental needs of each stage.
1. In the first plane of development from birth to six years, children are sensorial explorers absorbing every aspect of their environment
2. In the second plane of development from six to twelve years, children are exploring their world through abstraction and imagination. They use their knowledge to discover and expand their world.
3. In the third plane of development from twelve to eighteen years, they are interested in understanding themselves and their place in the society. They look for an opportunity to contribute to the society.
4. In the fourth plane from eighteen to twenty four years, as young adults, they are preparing to take command of their own lives.
Montessori classrooms provide a prepared environment where children are free to respond to their natural drive to work and learn. The children’s inherent love of learning is encouraged by giving them opportunities to engage in spontaneous, meaningful activities under the guidance of a trained adult. Through their work, the children develop concentration, motivation, persistence and discipline. Within this framework of order, the children progress at their own pace and rhythm, according to their individual capabilities during the crucial years of their development. Montessori classrooms are designed for a three-year age mix to allow for both individual and social development. Each child’s unique personality is encouraged; each child is respected as an important member of a community.
The Montessori approach to education is based on developmental principles and emphasizes the responsibility of adults to help the child actualize his inner potential. The role of the Montessori teacher in The Montessori School is one of guide and observer, whose ultimate goal is to intervene less and less as the child develops. The teacher builds an atmosphere of calm, order and joy in the classroom and encourages the children in all their efforts, thus promoting self-confidence and discipline. Knowing when to observe and intervene is a skill the Montessori teacher develops during a rigorous, specialized course of training at a recognized Montessori Training Center.
Dr. Maria Montessori graduated from the medical school of the university of Rome in 1896 and was the first woman to practice medicine in Italy. As a physician, Dr. Montessori was very involved with the care of young children. Through scientific observation, she came to see how children interacted with one another, learned through the use of materials she provided, and went through specific phases of development. Her approach to education was developed based on her observations in collaboration with her background in psychology and her belief in the education of children as a means to create a better society. She continued to observe children around the world and found that the universal laws of development she had recognized were inherent to children of all races and cultures.
Scientific research has shown that: