Dr. Montessori discovered that between birth and six years of age, children have a heightened capacity for learning that will never again be so compelling and influential. Dr. Montessori said, "The most important period of life was not the age of university studies but the period from birth to the age of six."
Children in the first Plane of Development (0-6) have what Dr. Montessori referred to as the Absorbent Mind - a mind that takes in the entirety of their surroundings without discrimination.
During this stage of development children also experience the Sensitive Periods. These are critical periods in a child’s development between birth and age six that show key sensitivity to attention and exploration of their environment. Once the Sensitive Periods have passed learning is not as deep and is more difficult for the brain.
Children in the First Plane of Development are keenly aware of others and have an innate desire to imitate and repeat as they construct themselves. They observe the teachers movements closely and are aware of the smallest details.
The teachers are trained to present materials in a slow and logical manner so that children can observe each individual movement. The children then practice with great exactitude and independence until the skill is mastered.
It is through this process that development of will, concentration, sense of order, logical thinking and problem solving takes place. This is the period when the child constructs himself and lays the foundation for all other learning.
What is missed in a child’s development during this period can create gaps in learning and understanding in the years to come.