Maria Montessori always looked at the child’s education in relation to the child. The child has different needs at different stages. The child forms his personality, develops and acquires independence.
Children between the age of birth and six possess an “absorbent mind”. This almost genius capacity for mental absorption enables them to learn their native tongue, to perfect movement and internalise order. Maria Montessori observed that children also experience Sensitive Periods in their development. These are periods of special sensitivity when the child is attracted to certain stimuli in his or her environment allowing them to acquire certain knowledge and skills. These periods occur universally for all children at approximately the same age and provide the time for optimal development of that particular skill or knowledge.
The six to nine year stage sees a move towards peers and the involvement of the child’s powerful imagination as a tool for learning. It is a period that sees the final acquisition and consolidation of all the basic skills; a time of great effort and endeavour.
The children who have reached the nine to twelve year stage have, so to speak, “the world at their feet”! In terms of what they can achieve, the sky’s the limit.
The advantages of being in a multi-age, co-educational situation with its strong friendship bonds are even more important now for the development of leadership roles and social skills as these children prepare themselves to become young adults. They are now ready to organise their work, fit in with timetables, meet standards and expectations. This is essential. However, they can do so without becoming permanently bound by them. After all, they will have to do so soon enough.
0-3 to Junior Primary
Children are encouraged to commence Junior Primary as close as possible to their third birthday. The 0-3 facilitator will complete an observation document of each child prior to transition.
Junior to Middle Primary
The children themselves are the indicators of when they are ready to move from Junior to Middle Primary, having reached the second stage of development. The Middle Primary does, however, demand a measure of competence in the area of reading and writing.
Middle Primary to Upper Primary
9-12 years of age is the end of the Second stage and is the preparation for a new identity. The challenges are ever increasing. Children will review their old work through re-interpretation (eg. Maths facts are reviewed through factorisation, divisibility, powers, etc.) There will be less time for verbalisation and free talk. Deadlines are given, external correction of error is required, and if fundamentals are not firm there can be no choice. The child must practise and repeat until they are known.