Boarding the First Plane

18 Jan

“This absorbent mind is indeed a marvelous gift to humanity! By merely ‘living’ and without any conscious effort the individual absorbs from the environment even a complex cultural acheivement like language…. The mind of the young child shows this phenomenon which has remained hidden in the mysteries of the creative unconscious.” – Dr. Maria Montessori (The Formation of Man)


According to the Montessori philosophy, Freestyle is currently in the First Plane of Development.

As a result of her careful observations and study of children, Maria Montessori discovered that there are four planes of human development. Instead of growing “in a steady and linear ascent,” Montessori proposed the pioneering concept that children developed in formative planes which depended on actions related to their environment, based on individual interest.

Photo Credit


This is about the First Plane, as Freestyle is currently in this developmental stage. Much of it is adapted from essays I’ve written during my teacher training. Yay, laziness! 


Photo Credit


  • The child is developing as an individual being and this, necessarily,  is an “ego-centric” phase.
  • During this time the child will make great strides in personal development and consciousness.
  • The five senses are used to explore and interact with her environment. For this reason, this is often called the Sensorial Explorer during this phase. She is learning about the world by touching, tasting, hearing, seeing, and smelling.
  • The term Absorbent Mind also applies to this Plane, with Ages 0 – 3 years being the Unconscious Absorbent Mind (and Ages 3 – 6 the Conscious Absorbent Mind). According to Montessori, the child will absorb her environment without bias and she will equally take in the “good or bad, beautiful or ugly, peaceful or violent.”
  • The child’s naturally unprejudiced absorption of sensorial impressions encompasses both positive aspects (the good, beautiful, and peaceful) as well as those that are not as beneficial to her development (the bad, ugly, and violent).
  • Due to this incredible phenomenon of the child’s unprejudiced assimilation of the environment, I believe that the role of the parent/caregiver is to ensure that the environment in which the child is exposed remains a healthy, safe, and rich terrain for their sensorial exploration.
  • Maria Montessori believed that the child begins forming herself (mind, personality) at birth through her environment, so education begins at birth and the family are the child’s first teachers.

             So if you have a child- congrats, you’re a teacher! 

  • While it is impossible and not beneficial to surround your child with only good and beautiful things (which may result in a sheltered child who is unfamiliar to reality), nonetheless, there is a clear advantage of preparing and maintaining an environment that the child will experience joy, peace, beauty, and kindness. In doing so, the parent will encourage the child’s mind to take in and incorporate these things into her being.
  • Thus, the Prepared Environment. Child-sized furniture and readily-available materials are just a couple of things that will help. I’ll write a more detailed post about this later.
  • For each plane there is a goal and a path/direction that leads to that goal. There are also “Sensitive Periods” that occur during that time that help the child meet that goal.
  • Sensitive Periods are bursts of energy and concentration a child seems to focus on a specific skill. This is a short but intense period of time but once it passes, it’s gone forever.
  • The Montessori teacher is trained to identify the onset of such periods and to encourage and teach to this.  Again, more about this another time.
  • As the child grows and the incredible amount of information is collected and filed away into the brain, the child begins to develop a need and desire to order and classify the information (moving towards the Conscious Absorbent Mind around age 3), even before she realizes that that is what she is doing.
  •  This sense of order applies to both time and place. If you have a toddler, you may realize that little things that we wouldn’t notice make her very upset. For example, a child may begin to cry when she sees that an umbrella that has always been closed opened for the first time. Or, a child may seem put off when her routine is changed suddenly and bath time is before a meal instead of after. (Both examples from the Michael Olaf site…couldn’t think of my own as Freestyle has just woken from her nap!)

There is so much more to add, but this is getting way too long. I am enjoying going through my old course work and textbooks, though! I knew keeping old classwork would not be in vain! Though, I guess a case could be made against my “Why Humans Should Not Be Cloned” essay for OAC World Issues. Remember Dolly?!


One Response to “Boarding the First Plane”


  1. Sensory Game (Ages 1+) | The Montessori Motherload - January 30, 2012

    […] Children at this age are Sensorial Explorers, using their five senses to learn about their environment. This activity allows them to use their […]

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