The four plans of child development according to Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori described education as “help for life”, supporting the child so that he reveals his“human potential”. Raising a child is such an important task. It determines who will be the adult of tomorrow. Therefore, it should be provided by an adult with knowledge of child development.
Maria Montessori, to develop her method, observed the children at length. It was guided by their manifestations at different phases of growth. Each phase of life corresponds to different needs in the child’s development. The child goes through certain phases, which have their own particular needs.
In order to best respond to them, it is necessary to know the different needs that correspond to each phase of development. To each of them, we must adapt the child's environment and our behavior as best as possible. Today I will explain to you the results of Maria Montessori's research. This way, you will have an overview and understand your child and what he or she is going through a little better. /strong>
After a lifetime of observing children, Maria Montessori has schematized the four planes of development that characterize the growth of the human being.
There are therefore 4 development plans which go from birth to 24 years. They are divided into periods of 6 years.
from birth to 6 years: early childhood
from 6 to 12 years: childhood
from 12 to 18 years: adolescence
from 18 to 24 years old: maturity
Each of these plans is divided into 2 phases which last approximately 3 years. For example from birth to 3 years which is a very constructive phase and from 3 to 6 years which is a rather calm phase and allows to consolidate the acquired knowledge for the first stage period, early childhood.
Plan #1: birth-6 years
Maria Montessori emphasizes the importance of the period from birth to 6 years.
From birth until the age of 3, the child will build the foundations of his personality. His experiences, his surroundings and his environment will shape the person he is becoming.
The little child is endowed with an absorbent mind as Maria Montessori described it. This allows him to experience and feel everything around him, to record the slightest information and store it without any effort. He is guided by a vital impulse, a force which pushes him to learn, to discover, to act by himself. Maria Montessori called it “the child’s inner guide”. His actions, his discoveries are guided by sensitive periods that he will go through between birth and 6 years old and which will come to fruition to define his character traits.
The child must be able to evolve in an environment favorable to his good development, he must be free of his movements, his actions while being safe. He must be surrounded by caring people who give him enough love and confidence so that an inner security grows within him allowing him to detach himself and live his own experiences.
Children between birth and 6 years old sometimes need guidance in their activity choices if they do not yet feel confident enough to choose for themselves. We must always direct it towards action with a defined goal. In Montessori pedagogy we will present material, an activity which requires precise gestures, an action with a chronological order, which allows the child to know what he must do and what the result must be, he can thus concentrate on the precision of his movements and therefore build his self-confidence.
From birth to 3 years, the child is unconscious, he is in a phase of assimilation.
“Help me to be myself”
From 3 to 6 years old, the child experiences what he has absorbed, he is in a consolidation phase.
“Help me do it on my own”
From the age of 3, the “me” becomes “I”, the child begins to act on the world around him, he now has the ability to modify it through movement and language. He becomes conscious and demands “work”. We will offer him lots of individual activities which encourage concentration. It is through this concentration that he will build this inner stability allowing him to open up to others, to socialize.
Children of this age particularly like sensory activities. Experiencing with all his senses allows him to be closer to the world around him, to experience things more intensely throughout his body, to position himself better in his environment to understand who he is and find his place. .
Plan #2: 6-12 years
From the age of 6, the child must make new efforts, it is no longer the hands that explore but the head that thinks.
“Help me to think for myself”
Exploration through the senses will no longer be enough for him, he wants to explore the world. As they grow up, children form groups and do physical and chemical experiments. They want to understand why, how…
Children will be asked to work in groups, do research, meet people who can teach them things and give presentations.
Between 6 and 12 years old, the child opens up to culture, it is time to introduce him to the entire Universe.
Maria Montessori wrote 5 great Stories of Life to read to children once a year to each child between 6 and 12 years old.
– the creation of the Universe– the appearance of Life on Earth– the appearance of Man– the history of mathematics– the history of writing
We will tell these stories each year in the same way to the children and the child will perceive them differently depending on their age and maturity.
Maria Montessori called this set of stories “cosmic education”.
It is also during this period that the child will find models, idols. We will therefore introduce him to the great personalities and inventors that history has known such as Einstein, Marie Curie, Pasteur, Mozart, Picasso etc. (It will always be preferable for him to identify with personalities who have accomplished great things!)
In this period of development, children go through a phase where they question everything: they, the adults, the way the world turns, they are a little rebellious, they are in the pre-adolescence phase. It is important at this moment to accept the provocation, to understand that it is natural and that they need it to build themselves, to find who they are. We must allow them to argue, criticize, develop their own thoughts on things and avoid conflict as much as possible. There can be existential crises around the age of 9 about how difficult the world is.
You have to listen to them, make them talk, support them and accept that they think differently. Maintaining communication is very important.
For example, you can develop with him or ask him to develop, alone or together within the group or siblings, rules of life. He will be more likely to respect them if he is the instigator. This is an age where he is looking for responsibilities, useful work, don't hesitate to trust him.
Plan #3: 12-18 years
“Help me to be in society”
The child becomes a teenager, he becomes more social, needs to belong to a group and adopts the signs of belonging, the look and the language. As during the 3-6 year period he undergoes strong physical changes and this can upset him and cause great fatigue. It is important as a parent to understand this. Teenagers are not only “lazy” they experience a real drop in energy due to hormones and bodily changes, their external appearance also changes and these changes can destabilize them. A large part of their capacities are monopolized by these changes. We then see that their intellectual abilities are put in “pause” mode.
Moreover, he is no longer a little child and he feels the need to distance himself from his parents. Generally speaking, our society has difficulty accepting this adolescent crisis and adults are often in permanent conflict with young people who feel misunderstood and rejected.
Maria Montessori advocated a boarding school on the farm. She encouraged working the land, getting closer to nature and animals. She imagines the concept “Erdkinder” which means the children of the Earth. The young people would take care of the farm, choose their own method of organization and distribution of tasks, their method of production, of selling their products and would then provide for their needs. They would thus be able to choose when they wish to attend educational courses as long as the deadlines are met.
Maria Montessori clearly sees that adolescents want to live in society but in an extra-family context. He wants to participate in the life of society in his own way and benefit from it, particularly financially, to free himself from his parents and become more independent. And we should encourage it.
Plan n˚4: 18-24 years old
“He should be fully alive and aware of the doors that open to him about the potential perspectives of human life and his own possibilities and responsibilities. » said Maria Montessori during a conference in 1938.
Young adults then have two possible choices: work, have responsibilities and provide for themselves or pursue higher education and continue to develop their thinking. In both cases, they will be further integrated into the adult world and the functioning of society and will become increasingly sociable beings.
Maria Montessori was disappointed that university studies ultimately only aimed to obtain training for a specific job and not to learn what "the goal of Man" is, what are his responsibilities on this Earth .
Maria Montessori was a profound humanist and believed that by supporting children to develop in a harmonious and happy way, they would become responsible adults, who take care of others, their environment and that Peace would reign over Earth.
After analyzing the different stages of child development, we understand how important it is to know each stage to best support the child by meeting their specific needs in an appropriate manner.
However, it must be understood that this is only the basis of education and that the main duty of the adult is to take the time to observe each child to meet their specific needs at the moment because obviously, each child advances at their own pace through their own experiences. Quality observation is therefore essential.
I think this helps us take a step back, forces us to look up when we are caught up in our daily lives and feel like we don't understand what is happening to our children when they react in this or that way. unexpected way. By realizing that they go through different phases which are completely natural and which affect all children, we can support them in a more respectful and caring way and avoid conflicts as much as possible.
With these good words, make the most of your children, one day they will be grown up! 😉