The Montessori Curriculum
Four Planes of Development
Montessori classrooms are multi-aged learning environments, based on Dr. Montessori’s stage theory of human development, which she called The Four Planes of Development. In the first plane from birth to age six, the child is characterised by his or her "absorbent mind", absorbing all aspects of his or her environment, language and culture. In the second plane from age six to twelve, the child uses a "reasoning mind" to explore the world with abstract thought and imagination. In the third plane from twelve to eighteen, the adolescent has a "humanistic mind" eager to understand humanity and the contribution he or she can make to society. In the last plane of development, from age eighteen to twenty-four, the adult explores the world with a "specialist mind" taking his or her place in the world. Maria Montessori believed that if education followed the natural development of the child, then society would gradually move to a higher level of co-operation, peace and harmony.
Birth to 3 Years
The first three years of life are the most fundamental in the development of human beings and their potential. The infant's physical development is phenomenal and apparent and inspires our care and attention. Yet a profound and less obvious development is taking place within the child. During the first three years of life the child's intelligence is formed. They acquire the culture and language into which they have been born. It is a period when the core of personality and the social being are developed. An understanding of the child's development and the development of the human mind allows environments to be prepared to meet the needs of the infant and foster independence, motor development and language acquisition. During this period Parents learn how to observe what their children are doing, do in order to know what experiences to offer them.
By the time your child is three (3) they will have some level of functional independence, good control over their body’s movements and have complete oral language. That’s a lot to have achieved in just three years! Yet it happened without effort because of the unique quality of the young child’s mind. Your three year old is still very much sensorial explorer. They use their senses to absorb every aspect of the environment, their language and culture, in the process constructing their own intellects. In Montessori we call this the phenomenon the ‘absorbent mind’.
Throughout this time of development your child will also experience periods during which they display heightened sensitivity to, or interest in, particular aspects of the environment. These periods, named sensitive periods by Montessori educators, represent windows of opportunity during which children’s intense interest, enables them to learn the corresponding knowledge and skill with ease and enjoyment. These periods occur universally for all children at approximately the same age. If you observe child closely you might see signs of these sensitive periods.
3 to 6 Years
The 3 to 6 year old child is undergoing a process of self-construction. The application of the Montessori philosophy and the specifically designed Montessori equipment aids the child's ability to absorb knowledge and continue this path of self-construction. Acquisition of one's own first culture is the child's central developmental drive in the first plane of development.
The pre-school environment serves this drive abundantly, bringing the world to the child. Globes, maps, songs, land forms, collections of pictures of life in different cultures, and much more, is offered, with the aim of helping the child to grow as an individual appreciating the larger context of his or her world.
The ‘Children’s House’ is the pre-school and/or long day setting for children from three to six years of age.
There are four main areas in the pre-school program: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language and Mathematics. Considerable emphasis is also placed on Creative Arts, Music, Science, Geography and Cultural Studies.
Please refer to our Gallery section for more information and photos on each of these four sections.