Elementary Program

The Montessori 3 Year Development Cycle

by Kelli Harran, Arbor Alumna and Former Upper Elementary Teacher

A unique feature of the Montessori environment, compared to other educational models, is the multi-age classroom. The three year development cycle is vital to the community and the individual child. To fully benefit from a Montessori experience, completing a three year cycle is critical.

Real World Representation

Compared to traditional classrooms, multi-age classrooms are more representative of society. In a workplace of employees of all different ages, younger workers learn from those with more experience. Senior personnel have the opportunity be leaders and mentors. Departments and teams collaborate and problem solve—which are both things Montessori children are especially well-equipped to do!

Dr. Montessori spoke of planes of development, with each plane representing certain psychological characteristics. Birth to age 6 marks the first plane; the second plane spans the elementary years from 6 to 12; and 12 to 18 marks the third plane of adolescence.

Montessori groups children together according to these three-year development cycles. The first half of each plane marks the time of greatest transformation. The second half of each plane is a time of refinement. Your child benefits from their Montessori experience each year. However, the final year in each classroom offers something special. All the leadership skills they have been honing blossom to their fullest potential.

We are often astounded by the growth of each child over three years in a classroom. For example, in their last year in upper elementary many children can present for 30 minutes on a topic that they have studied deeply over many weeks. They articulate their ideas with eloquence and depth.

The research, outlining, writing and presentation skills they have been developing come together in this impressive moment that we want every child to experience in their final year. It is just as inspiring for their younger peers, as they preview what they will become.