Maria Montessori’s view of children’s development recognised that they are born with genetic pre-dispositions which she called human tendencies: how these tendencies unfold will depend on the child’s experiences after birth. She advocated that all young children experience sensitive periods and that during these times the child is pre-disposed to learn and develop new skills and specific human characteristics such as language. These sensitive periods are particularly strong in the first six years of life, which Montessori considered to be the most important in the child’s life.
She organised children’s development into three year spans and, in many countries, these determine children’s schooling. She believed that children benefit from family grouping where the older children have the opportunity to share what they know with the younger ones and the younger children thrive by learning from their older peers
Birth to three
is the period when the child’s spirit unfolds;
the child requires much attention from the prime carer, movement
and language develop at a rapid pace as the child experiences
the world through his/her senses.
Three to six
is the time when the child is capable of social independence and is traditionally dedicated to nursery education. In the UK most children experience nursery education between two and four/five years of age.
Six to nine
year olds attend the lower elementary/primary classes, they approach learning with real enthusiasm and enjoy sharing their knowledge and understanding with friends. They take pride in being part of a group and demonstrate a strong sense of fairness. They enjoy making visits into the community.
Nine to twelve
year olds attend the upper elementary/primary where they have opportunities to research and organise their own learning and participate in projects in the wider community.
Twelve to eighteen
year olds’ education is guided by Montessori s view of the Erdkinder and her views of the unique characteristics linked to children s development during puberty and adolescence.