Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Second Plane of Development: Ages 6-12 - Montessori Philosophy

boy and girl with globe Second Plane of Development Ages 6-12 NAMC Montessori Philosophy
Continuing our series on learning about the four planes of development, we move on to the second plane, which encompasses ages six to twelve. The second plane of development is the plane of childhood. The absorbent mind, so prevalent from birth to age six, gives way to the conscious mind in the second plane of development. Learning now takes place at a slower, steadier pace. Children in the second plane of development are much less drawn to the repetition of activities, unless there is some variation involved.

Children in the second plane of development are also no longer solitary beings. They now tend to gravitate towards others in their environment. Around the age of 6, children begin to become interested in their classmates and are learning how to get along. They start to choose to work with others on projects of mutual interest. By 11 or 12, most students prefer to work with others rather than individually. Keep reading to learn more about the changes during the second plane of development.

The Second Plane of Development:  Ages 6-12 - Montessori Philosophy

As they develop, children in the second plane of development also expand their social network. They begin to show a genuine interest in others, whether it is within their local community or in a more global sense of awareness. Montessori elementary programs take advantage of this sensitive period of cultural awareness by providing a wide range of opportunities for children to explore their culture, and that of others, through the study of history, geography, language arts, and the sciences.
Children at the second plane lose their desire for physical order and develop a strong moral sense of order. They have a very strong sense of justice and perceived fairness and following the rules becomes very important. They need good role models as they learn about values.

This is the sensitive period for the imagination, for seeing the possibilities in real experiences. Montessori elementary programs often begin the school year with the telling of the Great Lessons. These five imaginative epics present a holistic vision of knowledge, drawing on material from the various disciplines. They are meant to spur the imagination of elementary students, thus initiating exploration into the curriculum. This Cosmic Education tells how the universe is not a random place or something that “just happened,” but shows how each particle, substance, species, and event has a specific purpose and a contribution to make to the development of others. Dr. Montessori wanted children to understand the amount of gratitude that human beings owe to other parts of the universe and to fully realize that without them and their contributions to the interconnected whole, we could not live.

Between the ages of 6 and 12, children experience great growth physically. However, what stands out greater than their physical growth is their capacity for great mental growth. The Montessori elementary curriculum was created with this in mind. The lower elementary (6-9) curriculum takes advantage of the child’s natural enthusiasm for learning and lays the foundation for skills needed at the next level. The upper elementary curriculum (9-12) not only focuses on the acquisition of knowledge, but adds a level of thoughtfulness by inspiring children to think and question.
In the second plane, children will reason about what has become part of their lives through the power of imagination and intelligence. They need to hear stories of greatness and goodness and moral values. The mind of the elementary child concerns itself with building a conscience, that inner sense of what is right and wrong. During this period of growth, they need to know that the adults in their lives love, respect, and understand them.

NAMC offers a complete range of Montessori Lower Elementary (6-9) and Upper Elementary (9-12) curriculum resources.

Related NAMC Blogs:
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, July 3, 2007.


  1. Is there a difference between AMS and AMI training and which one has a better possibility of getting hired. I am considering training and am considering tutiton costs and job possibilities later.
    Thank you

  2. AMS and AMI training programs differ in their manner of training and their requirements. In the end, choosing the right training program is a personal decision that should be based on how well each program suits your needs. We wish you all the best with your decision. If you have any additional questions, we would be happy to hear from you again. Please feel free to contact us directly at info@montessoritraining.net.

  3. There is a wonderful children's book in France that demonstrates the idea of food chains, and thus perfectly fits in with the idea of cosmic education and that all things are inter-related and interdependent. To my knowledge, this book has not yet been translated into English.
    It is called, "Croque. La nourissante histoire de la vie", written by Aleksandra Mizielinska .

    Here is the link to it's amazon page:


  4. How will the children be able to be redirected in the lower elementary meaning how will I redirect their behavior when they are being rude? I know the children are developing their own opinions and autonomy. However I'm curious as to how do I react when the children are rude to their teachers. In its rules are important and role models are important I know the teachers supposed to be the role model. But how much rudeness is acceptable? For the sake of the child finding their own autonomy?

  5. 55. The second plane of development is a curious time (6-10 years) when children long to hear stories of goodness, greatness, and desire to develop a deep sense of right and wrong, or morality. They no longer desire the repetition once practiced in the first plane of development, but rather have a sense of adventure to explore and learn new things with some variation.

  6. At the second plane of development, where children are less drawn to the repetition of activities unless there is some variation involved, it is important for the teacher to gauge whether the students are ready for the next level/variation. This has been the most difficult part of teaching to me, a beginner in the Montessori Method. The teacher needs to make sure he/she has some kind of documentation of his/her observations so when the students are ready, they are given the variation. This is the perfect time to utilize the Mastery Checklists and perhaps make a variation of it in excel with the names of all students at that level, in an effort to quickly ascertain who needs the next level.

  7. I find that at this stage of development, the social being of the student is one that needs to be encouraged, yet also shown to be productive. They need freedom to explore in a constructivist manner, yet have developed the skills to handle this responsibility without abusing their power.

  8. 55. I am not currently working in a Montessori classroom, however I do have children aged 5 to 7 in my mainstream class. I can certainly see how they are becoming more social as they get older and generally prefer working in groups rather than by themselves. I do have a few children who are very social and can tend to become louder than others, which can lead to distraction ultimately disruption. The best thing I find with these children, is that if they are unable to work responsibly with others, I calmly direct them to come and work next to me on the mat. This way I get to help them stay focused and I still get to work with other children at the same time.
    In response to a previous comment about rudeness, I don't think that any rudeness should be tolerated. Its great that children are forming their own opinions, but they still need to learn to voice these in a respectful manner.

  9. "In the second plane, children will reason about what has become part of their lives through the power of imagination and intelligence. They need to hear stories of greatness and goodness and moral values. The mind of the elementary child concerns itself with building a conscience, that inner sense of what is right and wrong." I find that this paragraph summarizes the most striking and inspiring characteristic of children in second plane of development.

    1. Audrey I could not agree more...this is the part that stuck the most with me from this plane of development. Fostering the imagination with imagination and the reciprocity of it all will help them leap forward at a tremendous rate!

  10. The Second plane od development in critical in school aged children. I find that educators need to always instill in students right and wrong and hear literature that in tells this.

  11. "They need to hear stories of greatness and goodness and moral values."
    i find this part about the development about the sense of right and wrong and about the conscience very interesting and as a homeschool mom going through the NAMC teachers diploma, we have often found reading the same stories like "The Little Red Hen" and "The Cow Went Over the Mountain" and "David and Goliath" the ones that we read over and over and over... but these three stories have great truth in them. i am glad that i can connect the why this is happening to whats gong on inside of my son and daughter!

  12. This has helped me connect the why are we reading the same ting over and over and over again to the importance of the stories that my son and daughter want to read over and over and over again! they are working on developing their sense of truth, right and wrong, and conscience listening! The Little Red Hen - has been on of those stories that when the kids have been asked to do something they have been asking for this story to be read. NOW it makes sense... i will work on holding my tongue and we will read it again and again and again...i will have a happy heart about it :) thank you NAMC for this insight!

  13. As I see the benefit of teachers understanding the planes of development in children in order to recognize their educational needs, I think that it is just as important for parents to understand the planes of development as well. If parents were aware that it is a sensitive period for the growth in imagination for children between the ages of 6-9, then parents would probably involve their children in activities that foster growth in their imagination. I think it's amazing that Montessori programs are using the planes of development to inform their curriculum because teaching lessons based on the understanding the needs of children at different stages in their lives seems like the most logical thing to do. I think it's important that parents also know that they can be involved in not only the physical but mental growth of their children. They just need to be made more aware of the needs of their child during particular stages in their life. This way, the child is not only developing and growing at school but it is being translated into the home as well.

    1. Shawna-Joy OgunleyeOctober 11, 2016 at 5:28 PM

      I agree with the sentiment of the parent knowing the phases as well, 100%! Each parent knows their child far better than the instructor would so they would more equipped to enhance their imaginations through the teachings if they themselves understood them.

  14. The more I learn about Maria Montessori's planes of development, the more I recognize these exact behaviors in the students at the Montessori school where I intern as a teaching assistant. The training and reading I am doing to become certified validates both the behaviors of my students and the reasons that the curriculum works for them. Now I understand why so many of our younger elementary students are driven to tattle-tale, or why they would not choose to repeat a language activity over and over again if it stays unchanged. Because of my new understanding of the second plane of development, I can make the connections between what the students need and what activities will inspire them to be drawn into learning. While I still have a lot to learn, this lesson opened my eyes to a new way of looking at my students.

  15. 55. I appreciate the suggestion of beginning the school year with the 5 great lessons. I believe by doing this we are able to create the opportunity to experience many activities that enhance social awareness, peace education and grace and courtesy education. We also are able to play into the fact that the LE child is sensitive to global awareness and interested in exploring their imagination. We can use this interest to introduce the child in the classroom and its materials.

  16. I am excited about teaching the Five Great Lessons. I have to wonder how my own learning as a child would have been different had I started my elementary years with this incredible perspective. I have a 10 year old daughter with a very strong sense of social justice and world view of community and she loved hearing these lessons in class.

  17. I am currently in the middle of my Montessori training and have just completed my reading of the Five Great Lessons. They really are such integral parts of the Montessori curriculum. It is so important for not just the first year students to hear them, but for returning second and third year students to rehear the stories and contemplate what they mean again in response to what they have learned over the past year.

  18. Justice, for students in the second plane of development, is very important. I can see it every day at school. Teachers have to be a model and have to be consistent in their way to arbitrate problems to give values to students.

  19. I thoroughly agree with Sharyn Garth...it is crucial that the parents are included as much as possible into their child's Montessori education and are made aware of the different planes of development. Just like us teachers gaining clarity from learning this important knowledge, it is simply just as important as parents being given the chance to gain understanding as well. And I would have to add after teaching for 2 years in a one year Kinder program at a Montessori Charter school (was awful, don't recommend it, is not authentic Montessori at all) that the young 5 year olds on up were showing just as much interest in being super social as the 6 year olds so please take note that as we know - it all depends on the child and none of these lessons on the planes of dev. are written in stone.

  20. IOne of the reasons I feel so passionate about Montessori education over mainstream is the focus on ensuring that students are able to explore their interests and do so in a way which really highlights our connectedness and diversity. Connecting to students’ imagination in a way which gives them a base understanding of how they and their learning fit in with the greater universe in the Five Great Lessons gives a real sense of meaning and wonder to everything that is done within the classroom. While society attempts to segment many parts of our lives into specializations, subject areas, social classes, race etc Montessori feels like an Oasis for the development of a sense of connectedness, wonder and enthusiasm to explore in an individual way which is natural to humans. While in mainstream society, many biases exist and impacts on students in this stage of development such as racism, gender roles and a sense of separateness which comes from external sources, it is so wonderful that we are able to create an environment where none of these biases are given any fuel by following the Montessori educational approach through giving specific attention to the planes of development.

  21. I have been a traditional educator for the past 16 years. It is an exciting adventure to dive into the Montessori Methods of teaching. During the Second Plane of Development, the students are beginning to take a true interest in others and the people around them. As stated above: "Children at the second plane lose their desire for physical order and develop a strong moral sense of order. They have a very strong sense of justice and perceived fairness and following the rules becomes very important. They need good role models as they learn about values." This becomes the heart of the Lower Elementary Classroom. I can't wait to implement these ideas and presentations to my students.

    Jeanie Maurer

    1. I am a Lower Elementary teacher in training. Last year I taught traditional second grade. The best thing that I can do in my classroom is to promote peace and kindness through positive role modeling. During the second plane of development promoting peace and respect opens up the doors for learning. The article states,"During this period of growth, they need to know that the adults in their lives love, respect, and understand them." Whether it be Montessori or Traditional the greatest learning occurs when there is respect, understanding, kindness and order in their environment.

  22. Because students in this plane of development no longer enjoy repetition, it is difficult as a teacher to know whether the student is truly ready to move on to the next level or if they are just bored.

  23. I find the Montessori philosophy close to the children development. I find a difference between my bachelor degree in special needs and my present Montessori formation. I do realize more and more and I wonder if It's just me changing through my teaching career or I just didn't take real time before to think and adjust my teaching regarding the plane of development. I do know the developmental stage and it's good to be reminded of them. I like that Maria Montessori in her method wanted to touch the students' mind and heart. The soul of Montessori brings the children further in their development and knowing that 6-12 age like to know about the whole world and wonder about what was there before amaze me. I'm so grateful to get this knowledge by reading article like this one and be part of the Montessori family. I'll continue to listen to my students like I always do but this time, I will keep in mind that they want to know more and that they are opened to know more and that they want to be loved, respected and understood.

  24. I am currently beginning my teaching position as an Elementary Montessori Teacher and I am responsible for teaching Grades One, Two and Three. Spending the past week and a half with my students has been very enlightening. Reading this article and being able to directly relate it to my students has really emphasized the significance and reality that is stated in the article, "students begin to show a genuine interest in others...[and they] develop a strong sense of moral order".

    My students are eager to work with on another and display a genuine desire to interact with their peers. Having the three different grade levels and ages within the same classroom is also very advantageous. The younger students are provided opportunities to look to the older students for guidance, and the older students can act as role models. On several occasions, I have also witnessed the students providing feedback and redirection to one another ensuring that their peers are adhering to the rules and expectations. It has really emphasized that the development and changes that take place within the Second Plane of Development can be observed in our children and students if we take the time to observe.

  25. I really enjoy reading about and being reminded that this is a sensitive time for a child's imagination, and watching the pure joy as they discover things on their own is a real joy for us as educators. I tend to want to help the kids do everything and it;s sometimes hard for me to step back and let them explore it for themselves, but this article really reminded me that my role is to step back and help them explore and develop at their pace and maturity.

    1. Dear HKW,
      Thank you! I can see that I am not the only one struggling to refrain from trying to directly teach my students instead of letting them explore on their own; after years working in traditional school where education is centered on the teacher rather than in the learners, this has been one of the hardest habits to break.

  26. Understanding the various Planes of Development provides an ideal window to understand the social and educational needs of children at the respective planes. It’s essential to keep in mind that, with the change from the absorbent mind to the conscious mind, learning happens at a slower, but steady pace. Knowing that children need variation to stay motivated has to be thoughtfully planned for. Their sense of social awareness and imagination can be sparked through cultural studies, history and geography. It’s quite interesting to know that they develop a sense of moral compass at this age, and this could potentially affect the kind of individuals they become. This, being the case, I feel that the need for appropriate modeling from the adults they interact with cannot be emphasized enough. Parents and educators who are aware of this need to extend a lot of care and thought to the kind of books children are surrounded with, and the kind of activities they are engaged in.


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