Conversations about Montessori

Planes of Development

Planes of Development

“Our method has been based on the fact that we have been guided by the manifestations of children at different phases of growth. Each of these may be considered a level or a plane. On each different level of life there are different manifestations…The characteristics of each are so different that the passages from one phased to the other have been described by certain psychologists as “rebirths.”-Dr. Maria Montessori

  • Each person will pass through the planes of development in unique ways and at different rates.
  • Each plane is 6 years long and is divided into 2 three year periods.
  • These correspond to the to the Montessori multi-age groupings.

The First Plane

  • Early Childhood
  • 0-6 years of age
  • Period of dramatic growth and transformation
  • The concrete world and the construction of self is at the center of things
  • The world is perceived through a sensory-motor, factual protected lens.
  • The child is capable of taking in a great amount of knowledge through the senses.
  • Learning is predominantly unconscious.
  • 0-3 year old is more exploratory
  • 3-6 year old is more ordered

The Second Plane

  • Childhood
  • 6-12 years old
  • Period of relative stability, health and more growth
  • Emphasis on intellectual growth, reasoning and independence
  • Moves from concrete to abstract
  • It is important to engage the imagination with work about culture
  • Enjoys research
  • Developing an understanding of right and wrong, good and evil and on seeing the self in relation to peers
  • 6-9 is a more exploratory period
  • 9-12 is a more stable and secure period

The Third Plane

  • Adolescence
  • 12-18 years of age
  • Period of instability, dramatic growth and transformation
  • Social and economic growth
  • Independence and interdependence
  • Abstract reasoning
  • Emotional development
  • Seeing self in relation to society
  • Learning focuses on larger society, community, service to others
  • First part (12-15) more turbulent
  • Second part (15-18) more stable

The Fourth Plane

  • Maturity
  • 18-24 years of age
  • Period of stable health and less dramatic growth
  • Emphasis on great potentials and possibilities that life has to offer
  • Discovering one’s mission
  • Relation to the whole of humanity
  • Achieving aspirations
  • Life planning
  • Postsecondary education
  • Beginning of a career

“Growth is not merely a harmonious increase in size, but a transformation. Man is a sculptor of himself, urged by a mysterious inner force to the attainment of an ideal determined form. Growth may be defined as a seeking after perfection given by an impulse of life.” -Dr. Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential

Different Environments, Different Behaviors

Different Environments, Different Behaviors

Observing children in the Montessori Environment is an enlightening experience. Teachers and Parents alike reflect on the mysteries of children’s behaviors and choices. We often hear both parents and teachers marvel at how different a child will seem from one environment to the other.

But, why is that?

Why would a change of environment make such a difference?

The simple answer is that there are a lot more differences between home and school then just being in a different space. The Environment encompasses more than just a setting. The more complex answer to this question requires we compare how each component and the two environments, home and school, impact our children’s choices and behavior.

Difference #1: THE PEOPLE

At home
The usual players: parents, siblings, maybe grandparents.
Number of people close by: 2-8

At school:
The usual players: classmates, teachers, teachers from other classrooms, specials teachers, administrators, classmates’ parents, special guests, classroom observers, student teachers and may vary from day to day.
Number of people around: 10-20 or more.

While the home environment contains consistent, familiar people, the school environment may feel a bit less predictable. There are also far more people around to talk to, watch, and play with. This can make school seem more exciting. This excitement may be enjoyable for part of the day, but having a calming place to unwind and spend time alone or with only a few people is a chance to recharge.

Difference #2 THE SETTING

At home, the rooms, furnishings and colors have all been thoughtfully arranged and maintained with the well-being of the specific group of people who live there and their favorite home activities in mind. Comfort is often an important consideration in a home environment with soft seating and lighting and areas of the home designated for time alone and time with others.

At school the environment is created to inspire interaction with the learning materials. In this space the plan is to stimulate children and draw their attention to new activities. Our Montessori classrooms are outfitted with wooden tables and chairs and bright overhead lighting. The classrooms have some variations in seating, but still have the group together in their classroom for the majority of the school day.

Difference #3 THE THINGS

At home a child has her own things, as do the other people in the home. These things are typically recognized to belong to her alone. There is sometimes a co-ownership with one or two siblings, but a feeling of ownership exists. Among a few people, taking turns or sharing can be negotiated relatively easily.

At school the materials in the classroom belong to the whole class. In Montessori, the notion of sharing exists as the responsibility of co-ownership of the classroom environment and materials. Children assist their community by caring for the materials respectfully and putting their work back carefully in its place, to restore the environment, when they are finished with a work. Only once a work is returned to the shelf is it available to be chosen by another student. Most of the materials in the classroom are used by just a single student at a time in order to foster concentration and perseverance in the work cycle (choosing a work, taking it to an appropriate space, completing the work, returning it to its proper place.)

Difference #4 THE RULES

At home routines, boundaries and guidelines may adjust depending on the other things going in the life of the family at the moment. Parents are able to be flexible and use all they know about their child as an individual to best meet their needs.

At school the rules and routines are rarely changed. With so many students in the class, and the need to be consistent and ensure equal opportunities and choices fair for all, adjustments to the rules are minimal. At school there are also peers who model behaviors and create a positive peer pressure for each other to stay the course and abide by the rules of the community.

Difference #5 THE CHOICES

At home children have the ability to move freely within the home environment, even choosing to spend time in their rooms alone. They can move seamlessly between activities and spaces without waiting for anyone.

At school children are required to be supervised during most or all of their day depending on their age and level of independence. They are often bound by the routine of their class and must practice patience while waiting for other children to move to the next space or activity.


Our children are amazing people, capable of deciphering the complex rules and routines of different environments and groups of people. They move easily from one place to the other with little interruption and thrive within a variety of settings. This is an important life skill. As adults we move through many different places and expectations in the course of a single day. Each of these environments have different guidelines and sets of acceptable behaviors. At sporting events we learn to clap and cheer, at the symphony we learn to listen quietly, at a restaurant we learn to filter out the noise from other tables to give our dining companions all our attention.

Children sometimes need a little more time understanding unspoken rules of all the different settings of their life. During this time of exploration they will sometimes choose the most comfortable environments to let their guard down and/or test those limits and unspoken guidelines. This is totally normal and just one more way that children gather information about the world and how they fit into it.

Behind the Scenes at The Glen

Behind the Scenes at The Glen

Every August The Glen holds a week long in-service for its faculty and staff to prepare for the new school year. Training sessions take place on topics such as curriculum, fire and disaster preparedness, first aid and CPR, and Montessori philosophy.

Here is a sneak peek behind the scenes of some of our faculty during first aid and CPR training. We are very fortunate that our own Ms. Lyndsay, who is a phenomenal PE teacher is also a certified first aid and CPR trainer.



“Education is the best weapon for peace.”- Dr. Maria Montessori

The following is a list of websites and support materials for peace education from the American Montessori Society. Now, more than ever, Dr. Montessori’s curriculum focusing on peace education is crucial for our school and community.


The following websites contain valuable resources for peace and social justice education.

Annotated Bibliography

To promote peace through literature, we offer this extensive list of books about peace(originally published in Montessori Life, Spring 2016). It is divided by suggested age levels, with a short summary about each book.


Educating for Peace: The Essence of Montessori, produced by Eric Johnson (Educational Video Publishing) in partnership with AMS.
Featuring children from birth through high school, this 21-minute DVD examines how children in Montessori programs learn grace and courtesy, resolve conflicts, care for the environment, and come to respect other cultures. To order, contact Educational Video Publishing.


The Peace Alliance is an excellent resource for information about peace education and conflict resolution. Sign up for their eNewsletter for regular updates on their activities and peace actions alerts.

Welcome to the 2017-2018 School Year!

Dear Glen Families:

It is my sincere pleasure to welcome you to the 2017-2018 school year at The Glen Montessori School. The Glen has a long tradition of providing an exceptional Montessori education to children and this year is promising to be no exception.

The Glen’s long tradition began in September of 1986 in the small fellowship room of a church in Glenfield with just six Children’s House students. Today, our school has grown to serve children from eight weeks to twelve years old. We have more than a dozen classrooms and more than 200 students, making us one of the largest Montessori schools in the greater Pittsburgh area.

The growth of The Glen is attributable to the families and faculty who have given generously of their time and resources over the last 31 years.

Today, there are still many opportunities to get involved. We continue to move forward with the goals outlined in our 2015-2020 Strategic Plan which contains objectives in five key areas. Committees have been convened in the areas of Communication and Technology, Facilities, Education, Advancement, and Organizational Development.  Our Parent Teacher Community (PTC) is also a great way to help the school, by volunteering in the classroom or at school community events.

The Glen is a school for children, but more importantly it is a community. We have all come to The Glen, as families and faculty, because we believe in the benefits of Montessori education and value the partnership between home and school to provide the best nurturing support of children.

Ours is important work. As Dr. Montessori said, “Times have changed, and science has made great progress, and so has our work; but our principles have only been confirmed, and along with them our conviction that mankind can hope for a solution to its problems, among which the most urgent are those of peace and unity, only by turning its attention and energies to the discovery of the child and to the development of the great potentialities of the human personality in the course of its formation.”

It is wonderful to be surrounded by a community of families, faculty and our Board of Directors that is as passionate about the mission Dr. Montessori has set for us and the commitment to the lives of children that have brought each of us to The Glen.  And that is why through our work together, our children will continue to receive an extraordinary Montessori education in a school which truly values them.



Jackie Herrmann

Head of School

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