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The Montessori Method

What is the Montessori Method

  • The Montessori Method is an approach to learning which emphasises active learning, independence, cooperation, and learning in harmony with each child’s unique pace of development.
  • Originator: Maria Montessori (1870-1952), Italian teacher and physician
  • Keywords: absorbent mind, sensitive period, prepared environment, autoeducation, planes of development
  • The Montessori Method is an approach to education which emphasises individuality and independence in learning. Children are seen as inherently curious and learning driven. Thus, education is viewed as a process which should occur in harmony with the child’s individual developmental pace. High academic standards are critical, but it is a holistic approach emphasising all aspects of development, rather than on attaining specific pieces of information.

What are Planes of Development

Dr. Maria Montessori defined 4 stages of development and labelled them as the 4 planes of development, noting that within these stages, the development is intense at the beginning, consolidates and then tapers to the next.  The 1st and 3rd planes are periods of intense creation, while the 2nd and 4th planes are the calm periods of consolidation.  Key to all the planes of development is the individual’s need for independence.  This is expressed differently throughout the planes.  Please click here to read more about the different planes.


Planes of Development – The Way Children Grow

On the path from birth to adulthood the child passes through several distinct phases. In each of these phases he is not only physically different but he also has different psychological characteristics and therefore different developmental needs.

At each phase, which Montessori called a ‘plane of development’, the child has such different physical and psychological characteristics that Montessori described the passing from one plane to the next as a ‘rebirth’, as if we have a new child at each new plane who will require a different environment just as the new born baby requires a different environment from the womb in which he has spent the last nine months.

Montessori called the first plane of development from zero to six years Infancy, that from six to twelve Childhood, from twelve to eighteen Adolescence and the final plane from eighteen to twenty-four Maturity. Many psychologists have described these six different planes but it is only Montessori who has given a way to respond to this knowledge as a means of education and in this way she has redefined education as an ‘aid to life’ saying that if we support the natural development of the child at each plane then we will optimise development for the whole human being.

There is a particular time in the child’s life when he is most able to take a particular developmental step. These opportunities must be grasped because when they are missed the development that can take place later will never be as complete as if it had happened at the right moment.

Newberry House strives to follow the Association Montessori International Curriculum, as per the South African Montessori Association’s guidelines.