Montessori education begins with the understanding that the role of the adult is to support and assist in the child’s own efforts and activities in the unfolding inborn developmental powers. The child, from the earliest moments of life, possesses great constructive energies that guide the formation of his mind and the coordination of his body through spontaneous activities and interactions with the environment. The Montessori approach was developed without preconceived ideas as to how best to aid the child in his journey to adulthood. Instead, key Montessori ideas emerged from Dr. Montessori’s direct and extensive observation of children in diverse cultures and in many countries:
- That there are four key developmental planes in the journey to adulthood: 0-6 years old, 6-12 years, 12-18 years and 18-24 years. Each of these planes has its own goals: in the first, the development of the self as an individual being; in the second, the development of the social being; in the third, the birth of the adult and finding one’s sense of self; in the fourth, consolidating the mature personality and becoming a specialized explorer. The complete development of the adult human being requires that the specific needs of each of these periods be satisfied.
- That within each of these planes the child or adolescent has specific ‘sensitivities’ or ‘windows of opportunity’ that urge a child to seek out and repeat activities to acquire a particular human trait, for example a sensitivity that drives the child to the acquisition of language in the first plane (0-6 years), or that drives the child to the development of a moral ‘compass’ in the second plane (6-12 years).
- That in addition to these age-specific sensitivities, human beings, from birth to death, have a number of behavioral tendencies that give each child the ability to adapt to his or her place and time. These human traits—for example, to explore, order, manipulate, imagine, repeat, work and communicate—have been crucial to human evolution and are active within the child.
To read more on this topic, please visit The Association Montessori Internationale Centenary website: