Planes of Development


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Children move through sensitive periods and follow a developmental path. Traditional education assumes that development is linear: every year you learn more and more, building on what you learned in the past, until you reach maturity and know everything there is to know. Dr. Montessori saw things differently. She recognized that human development is not perfectly linear. In fact, learning occurs in cycles. There are peaks and valleys to it, and you can see that represented in her chart. 

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Four distinct periods of growth, development, and learning identifiesd by Dr. Maria Montessori that a human being progresses through: ages 0 – 6 (the period of the “absorbent mind”); 6 – 12 (the period of reasoning and abstraction); 12 – 18 (when adolescents construct the “social self,” developing moral values and becoming emotionally independent); and 18 – 24 years (when young adults construct an understanding of the self and seek to know their place in the world). -from American Montessori Society