Upper Elementary Children

Children in upper elementary, between 6 – 12 years of age, are in their second stage of development and another step closer to independence.

Cognitively, they… 

  • are using their imagination to figure things out.
  • are practicing their powers of concentration.
  • are beginning to think abstractly.
  • are developing their ability to reason.
  • want to understand things for themselves.
  • are looking for knowledge to help them understand the world outside of home and school.

Socially, they…

  • are focused on their peers.
  • feel that they are ready to enter society.
  • want to explore the world outside of home and school.
  • are beginning to develop their inner strength, self-discipline and character.

Morally, they…

  • are starting to test their moral compass in the social world.
  • want to understand right and wrong.
  • are developing their own sense of justice.
  • are developing their conscience.
  • want to understand the motivation behind behaviour.

Emotionally, they…

  • testing the social and moral boundaries to see where they fit in. 
  • are learning to adapt to their new social environment.

For a break down of characteristics by grade, please read this blog post:

Characteristics of Children in their Second Stage of Development


How can we support a child in the second stage of development?

From you, they need help developing their moral and social values.

From us, they need activities that allow them to “live” their research.

They need field trips and day trips to explore life outside the classroom.

They also need group work and the opportunity to talk about their ideas.

From their environment, they need a place to explore their ideas.

They need to practice and test their notions of morality and justice.



Duffy, Michael and D’Neil Duffy. Cosmic Education in the Montessori Elementary Classroom. (Chapters 1-3)

Grazzini, Camillo.  The Four Planes of Development.

Grazzini, Camillo. Introduction to “Keys to the World: The Second Plane of Education”

Haines, Annette., Baker, Kay., and Kahn, David. The Optimal Development Outcome.

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