The Four Planes of Development – Elementary Ages 6 to 12
If the First Plane of Development is called the Absorbent Mind, the Second Plane of Development could be called the Conscious Mind. That doesn't sound very compelling, but it is. This is when imagination and the search for morality take hold.
- How and why everything came to be
- Justice and the knowledge of right and wrong
- Relating more to other children in the classroom.
Do you remember when you first learned about the cosmos and how Earth came into existence? For most of us, it blew our minds and changed our understanding of the world. Through stories, experiments, and projects that encourage exploration, Montessori elementary classrooms like our Sunflower Program take advantage of this sensitive period and help children lay the foundation for what they understand about the world and how they fit in it.
"…the Cosmic Plan can be presented to the child, as a thrilling tale of the earth we live in..." (Dr. Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential, p. 2)
"If the idea of the universe be presented to the child in the right way, it will do more for him than just arouse his interest, for it will create in him admiration and wonder, a feeling loftier than any interest and more satisfying. The child’s mind will then no longer wander, but becomes fixed and can work." (Dr. Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential, p. 6)
"That's not fair!" is the most common complaint in children this age, and that's no mistake. As their minds expand and embrace concepts of right and wrong, children start to make decisions and solidify their moral values. This is a critical time for children as they begin to judge the world around them.
"A second side of education at this age concerns the child’s exploration of the moral field, discrimination between good and evil. He no longer is receptive, absorbing impressions with ease, but wants to understand for himself, not content with accepting mere facts. As moral activity develops he wants to use his own judgment, which often will be quite different from that of his teachers." (Dr. Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential, p. 4)
In short, they need good role models as they learn about values. We are able to take this to its full conclusion at Colorado Christian Montessori. Naturally, Bible stories really ignite children's imagination! True stories of heroes and other people who persevered and followed God through incredible obstacles is inspiring and encouraging to kids and adults. Learning about Jesus and how he proved that he is who he said he was is even more wonderful, and is the greatest story ever told.
While young children tend to play alongside each other, they start to do more together during the Second Plane of Development. This happens gradually and by the time children are 11 or 12, they prefer to complete school activities with another classmate.
Remember the movie Stand by Me? This is the beginning of developing social order.
"Yet a third interesting fact to be observed in the child of six is his need to associate himself with others, not merely for the sake of company, but in some sort of organized activity. He likes to mix with others in a group wherein each has a different status. A leader is chosen, and is obeyed, and a strong group is formed. This is a natural tendency, through which mankind becomes organized." (Dr. Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential, p. 4)
Another aspect of this peer development is children's increasing awareness of culture. Whether their home, their community, or a village in another part of the world, children this age are becoming more interested in people around them. Montessori curriculum takes advantage of children's natural curiosity by exploring history, geography, language arts, and the sciences.
The Organized Mind
By educating children about the world around them at the time when they are most receptive to this knowledge, they are able to organize their knowledge and truly form the core of their conscience.
"Our experience with children in elementary schools has shown us that the age between six and twelve years is a period of life during which the elements of all sciences should be given. It is a period that, psychologically, is especially sensitive and might be called the "sensitive period of culture" during which the abstract plane of the human mind is organized." (Dr. Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence, p. 85)