Montessori, Imagination, and Cosmic Education

In honor of the glorious second plane of development, a beautiful time when children aged 6-12 are learning about themselves and their universe, we thought it might be nice to take a deep dive into the Montessori perspective. Dr. Montessori wrote and spoke quite a bit about her thoughts and findings regarding elementary-aged children, and it can be helpful to look at her work and how it translates into what we do in our classrooms today.

The second plane of development is characterized by many stark differences from the first, including an increased need for peer socialization, a deep sense of fairness and justice, spurts of physical growth, and so much more. It’s also a time when the child’s imagination is highly developed, so it only makes sense to utilize this characteristic when considering the child’s academic needs.

There tends to be a lot of confusion regarding Montessori and imagination; we hope to bring some clarity. All quotes in this article are from To Educate the Human Potential by Maria Montessori, from The Montessori Series, 2007.

A Shift At Six

If you observe in a Montessori primary environment, then walk down the hall to observe in a lower elementary environment, you’ll notice stark differences. It’s no accident that your first grader is taught in a very different manner than they were when they were in kindergarten.

Sometime right around age six, the child undergoes a transformation. We know development is not exact, and there are absolutely variations between individuals. It is important, however, to recognize patterns and characteristics that have shown themselves to be developmental markers in most children at certain times in their lives. This helps us as parents and educators to better understand their needs and appropriately adjust our approach and expectations.

Children between the ages of six and twelve are intensely curious about the world around them. They are bursting with questions, and eager to soak up as much as they can in regard to subjects such as science, history, and geography. So we meet them where they are.

“Knowledge can be best given where there is eagerness to learn, so this is the period when the seed of everything can be sown, the child’s mind being a fertile field, ready to receive what will germinate into culture.” (p. 3)

Throughout the elementary years, we provide the child with an education that includes in-depth studies of biology, the earth, the universe, the evolution of living things, early huma