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Montessori Planes of Development -- First Plane 0-3

It occurred to me the other day that Henry, Nora, and Gus are really in unique places in their development at this moment -- each with their own needs, natural desires and interests. While each child is unique, there are some tenancies that children of certain ages possess. Maria Montessori called these general chunks of time "planes of development." Each of these planes has different characteristics. And, in this brief moment, it is so perfectly clear at my house just how unique each of these planes of development really is. 

A look at the Montessori first plane of development from age 0-3!

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Montessori breaks the planes of development into four unique periods of development, where some general characteristics can be identified in children. In my house, my kids are in the first two! So I thought I would do a little series on the three distinct periods that my kids are currently in! The first up is 0-3! 

First Plane of Development  

The first plane of development last from birth until age 6. Both Augustus and Nora are in the first plane of development. This is the stage of the absorbent mind where children absorb information from their environment with ease. However, like I said Nora and Gus are both in very different places! This is because the first plane of development is broken down into two sub-planes: 0-3 and 3-6! 

Unconscious Sub-Plane 0-3

From birth until around age 3, children are in the unconsciously absorbing everything in their environment. They gather everything from their environment just simply by being in it. They can teach themselves how to move by watching, they can teach themselves how to talk by listening.

Maria says in The Absorbent Mind, "There is in the child a special kind of sensitivity which leads him to absorb everything about him, and it is this work of observing and absorbing that alone enables him to adapt himself to life." During this time, children are working to become more and more independent. They are so capable of accomplishing what they set out to accomplish. They are constantly busy working toward these goals. Dr. Montessori also says "How does he achieve this independence?  He does it by means of a continuous activity. How does he become free?  By means of constant effort. …we know that development results from activity."

A look at the Montessori first plane of development from age 0-3!

At 1-year-old, Gus is right in the middle of this stage. Everything he sees is becoming part of him. Some personal thoughts on this period: 
  • a huge explosion of movement, movement doesn't stop or slow 
  • focus on practical life - in a truly practical sense 
  • create an environment of order and beauty for a child to absorb
  • learn through experience and exploration in the internment, not through completion of certain tasks 
  • intensely interested in language 
  • everything is new and interesting, shelf work is often left unused in favor of exploration 
  • busy work is unnecessary, adult led projects aren't encouraged  
  • materials should be simple, meet developmental needs and child's interest  
  • choices can help to avoid power struggles as they strive to be more and more independent 
  • emotional ups and downs can accompany the need for independence and freedom 
Over the coming year, I expect Gus to become less interested in sitting and working with toys, and more interested in moving, following me around to get involved in practical experiences. As a 2-year-old, language will become the focus, an interest in practical practical life, and all the busyness! 

A look at the Montessori first plane of development from age 0-3!

Next up, in this series, the second sub-plane 3-6! 

What have you noticed about the first plane of development? 


Vanessa Janover said…
Thank you so much for all your advice and sharing of your family.
My question is how much time do you spend with Gus doing practical activities? I have a play area for my 1 year old and when I’m cooking, laundry etc she plays uninterrupted in there. She cannot yet stand without holding on to the table so I feel that it is unfair to give her tools in the kitchen because she cannot yet balance adequately.
I start small, its handing him a rag after he is done eating, or letting him smell/taste small bits of what we are eating. Gus cannot hold tools yet either, but he can explore a kitchen themed sensory basket. He can eat independently, and explore dishes and utensils that way. With laundry he can explore socks as I fold. Its about exposure and connection!

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