Blog: How can we “offer them the Universe”?

Maria Montessori discovered that at around the age of six children enter a new plane of development which will last until they are around 12 years old. What is unique to this period in a child’s life? How can we best support children at this age both as educators and as parents? And how can our understanding of this stage inform our approach to younger children?

Read on to discover answers to these questions or register for our two-week AMI Assistants Certificate 6-12 for a thorough grounding in Montessori at this stage.

Intellectual growth and physical changes – By age six and older, children are changing – they have less baby fat, new teeth and stronger bodies, and they are usually robust and healthy. They possess reasoning minds and a strong sense of justice and fairness. It is a time of intellectual growth that sees children transitioning towards abstract thinking.

Wider perspectives – Our AMI Assistants Certificate 6-12 trainer, Alison Awes says: “In the classroom, we offer them the universe”. At the beginning of the academic year, the children are told the so-called “Great Stories”. These stories start with the origin of the universe and offer a journey through history. These are stories of inventions, mathematics and secret languages, respect and gratitude, fairness and morality. They ignite the children’s interest in many different subjects, they give them a wider perspective and they get them excited about learning and researching. “These stories of the world are our children’s story as well” Alison says. The understanding of the human contribution to our world results in the children asking themselves: “how will I contribute?”

Contributing to the community – Montessori children contribute practically to the running of their classroom from an early age and they learn how to take responsibilities for their community. By the 6-12 years stage, children start to think beyond the boundaries of the classroom about their impact in their local area and the wider world. They can be encouraged by teachers and parents to get involved in local initiatives and to campaign for issues they care about.

Character development and ethics – In Montessori classrooms the balance between freedom, discipline and responsibility creates a collaborative and respectful environment. The intellectual growth in the 6-12 years stage means children can now consider more complex issues and develop at a more abstract level. In practice this is seen in how the children work together in groups, the changing role of the teacher and how academic progress is ensured and work levels are checked. At home parents can reinforce this approach and nurture independence and morality by acting as role models for their children; offering valid reasons for their decisions; giving clear boundaries; setting expectations clearly; and avoiding shaming and punitive interventions.

Discover more by taking the AMI Assistants Certificate 6-12 this April for £825. This two week course is suitable for anyone wanting to work with 6-12-year-olds, for those working with 3-6-year-olds who want to better understand this stage, and for parents and anyone interested in Montessori.