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Montessori Planes of Development -- First Plane 3-6

Nora, Henry, and Augustus are not all that far apart in age - a little over 5.5 years separates the three of them. But, in this moment in time, they are all so distinctly different, especially from a development standpoint. 

A look at the Montessori first plane of development from ages 3 to 6 years old.

Maria Montessori found that children pass through four distinct planes of development over their childhoods. These planes last approximately six years each. As I said in my first post, Nora and Gus are both in the first plane (ages birth to 6.) Henry, however, is in the second plane (ages 6 to 12.) Nora and Gus will eventually join Henry in the second plane before he enters the third plane at around age 12, so this really is a unique time for our family. 

First Plane of Development

Now, like I mentioned before, the first plane is broken down into two sub-planes: ages birth to 3, and ages 3 to 6. Gus is in the first sub-plane. And, Nora, she is in the second sub-plane. Now to add to the uniqueness of this time, Gus will actually join Nora in the second sub-plane before either of them join Henry in the second plane! HA! 

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Conscious Sub-Plane 3-6

At around age 3, there is a big shift in the child. Maria Montessori found that 3-year-olds shift away from unconsciously absorbing everything in their environment to consciously absorbing it. In The Absorbent Mind, Maria Montessori tells us, "thus it happens that at the age of three, life seems to begin again; for now consciousness shines forth in all its fullness and glory." 

Furthermore, she says, "his intelligence no longer develops merely by existing: it needs a world of things which provide him with motives for his activity." In other words, children from ages 3 to 6 still have the power to absorb information from their environment, but they do it through the active exploration of their surroundings and the materials placed within them. 

They do it through touch, manipulation, and exploration! Then, they repeat, repeat, repeat to perfect their actions and learn all they can about their interests. And you can see this through their behavior. Maria says, "hence there are two tendencies: one is the extension of consciousness by activities performed on the environment, the other is for the perfecting and enrichment of those powers already performed. These show us that the period from three to six is one of "constructive perfectionment" by means of activity."

Nora has officially entered this sub-plane. The shift has occurred over the last several months. It hasn't been something that one day wasn't there and one day was. But, little shifts here and there until it has become clear that she is a conscious worker. Here are some personal thoughts on this plane: 
  • intensely busy workers - always want to do something and can take initiative to do it themselves 
  • individual interests develop and materials {especially at home} vary from child to child based on those interests 
  • still very motivated by movement - a need to move and work 
  • learn through their senses and physical exploration - not by being told something
  • academic interests increase - sudden desire for academic knowledge and continued knowledge about the world around them 
  • crave information about the real world 
  • concentration deepens and children can work for much longer periods of time 
  • language calls to the child, but not just spoken language - desire to read and write develops and deepens 
  • interested in refining skills not just exploring materials - will repeat small parts of a task over and over until perfection 
  • very interested in practical life tasks 
  • complete a cycle of work -- choosing, taking out, working with, and returning material -- more and more regularly 
  • need a prepared environment to carry out tasks independently 
Over the next year, I expect Nora to stay busy - always working on something. I expect that her individual interests will continue to expand and that we will need to prepare our space to meet these interests! And, I expect her desire to learn all the things will continue! 

Next up in this series, I will explore the second plane of development! Don't miss the first post in this series on development: Montessori Planes of Development -- First Plane 0-3.

Do you have a 3 to 6 year old? Have you noticed changes as you have entered the second sub-plane? 



Ashlea said…
love this!I have a 2.5 yr old and 4.5 yr old and can very much see the differences in where they are. I also love that road sign puzzle N is doing, where did you get it/ what brand is it?

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