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April 19, 2023

Montessori Parenting: Supporting a Child into the Second Plane of Development

There is so much change that happens over the first few years of a child's life that it can really become quite overwhelming to think about as a parent. Those first six years are marked by such rapid growth, intense emotions, and so much change. The good news is that children do let you catch your breath a bit into the elementary years - a time that Maria Montessori defined as fairly stable. But, not before one last major transition into the second plane of development

Maria Montessori described the movement from the first plane to the second plane as a "rebirth." Your child emerges from this period of intense change as a new person. They will learn differently, see the world differently, and approach their own development differently. As Montessori parents, we need to support this time with great care and understanding. The child we had is changing and that is hard on the "mama heart" but we need to let go, embrace the change, and guide in some new ways. 

Supporting the Transition from First Plane to Second Plane of Development as Montessori Parents

Gus is in the midst of this transition from one plane to the next right now. And I need these words more than anyone. The small little boy that worked tirelessly on his own development is changing into a child ready to take on the world in a big way. But, then somedays that little boys sneaks back in for cuddles, and support. This really is a process and not an overnight change. 

Here are a few things to remember and ways to support a child in space in between the first and second planes: 
  • Accept Strong Emotions: I've found this phase comes with a lot of feels. There is a desire to be bigger, more independent, and out in the world but also a need for scaffolding and support. The two almost seem to be in conflict with one another within the child. This leads to some big feelings, limit testing, and sometimes conflict. 
  • Back and Forth: No child is going to wake up one day and be a second plane child. There will be signs that your child is entering the second plane. They will come on gradually. Sometimes they will be able to approach something from a second plane lens, and other times, not. Observe your child to determine how to approach a specific challenge or situation.
  • Be Prepared for Big Questions and Ideas: Now is the time to get some good reference books, and to prepare yourself for bigger, deeper conversations. Don't be caught off guard when your child starts asking big questions, have a plan for how to approach topics of morality, justice, and the universe. Prepare your space for bigger projects and work

  • Physical Changes are Real: Maria Montessori described this as a time of great physical change - longer, slimmer limbs and face, losing baby teeth, and just looking much more mature. And, these changes have been my experience. Check shoe sizes frequently (especially if you have indoor shoes at school), talk about how to deal with baby teeth and come up with traditions around that, and observe your child's sensory needs. Have things changed as they become less sensitive to sensory impressions? 
  • Tricky Relationship with Toys: Toys aren't going to suddenly become unused but a child's relationship to them may change. While toys/materials may have been the go-to activity for a child in the first plane, don't be surprised if playing sessions suddenly become replaced more and more by a need to be in a community of children. Social needs increase and toys just aren't taking up as much space in their lives. 
  • Give Leadership Opportunities: Start to provide leadership roles as your child wants them. Ask their opinion about something that's happening in your family, give them more control over the types of clothes you're buying for them, ask them how they want their space set up, and ask them to give others a lesson on something they enjoy. 

While this transition to the second plane of development is one of change, it is followed by a few years of stable growth in your child. I suspect Gus will soon settle into this new life of a second plane child, just growing and maturing in beautiful ways. I'm ready to see his mind explode into the cosmos, and the world just open up to him. 

This transition from the first plane to the second plane is tough for Montessori parents, but it is so worth it. Support your child through it, make connection a priority and prepare yourself for the amazing changes to come! 

As Montessori parents there are so many changes that occur as a child enters the elementary years. Here are some thought on how to support your child as a Montessori parent into the second plane of development.


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