Adolescence is a time of rapid development and growth.  What happens during these critical years shapes a lifetime ahead for children, and determines the
path taken into adulthood.

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Montessori observed four distinct phases of development that all children go through as they mature.  Students at age twelve enter into an acute stage of development, in which their learning helps them to achieve social independence.  During this key plane students take their prior knowledge and use it to form themselves.  As they develop, they question and explore who they are as a person and how they fit into society. 

Characteristics of Adolescents

  • Immense Physical Change

With the exception of infants, adolescents are growing more than any other time of life.  This rutted path leads them to sexual maturation, but takes them through periods of both exceptional energy and lethargy.  Their need for adequate food and sleep is paramount at this time.  All of the changes to their bodies leave teens feeling self-conscious and vulnerable.  They constantly feel judged by others, and are open to hurt and humiliation.



  • Need for Moral Dignity and Social Justice

Adolescents feel passionately about justice, and personally impacted when they perceive injustice.   At this time they begin to question beliefs and rules that they previously just accepted.  They are drawn to social causes, and feel empowered when they are able to help others.  During this plane they also tend to seek or create heroes in an effort to counter all the imperfections they see in the world. 



  • Ability to Visualize and Idealize Perfection

For the first time in their lives, adolescents are able to imagine what perfection is.  They can visualize what the ideal family, flawless school, and perfect world would look like to them.  As a result, they can become preoccupied focusing on the problems around them.  Adolescents often blame those closest to them for life’s imperfections, which can cause tension at home and school.




  • Need for Creative Exploration and Self-Expression

Adolescents forming their own identity tend to have a need for creative exploration.  This involves playing with different creative mediums (ie. music, fashion, cooking, dance, formal arts, etc).  Not only do these pursuits allow an outlet for energy and emotions, but they enable the individual to see what they are good at and how they fit in.  Youth are able to think abstractly and analyse, as long as the subject is presented within a personal context. 



  • Ability to See Self as an Individual

The adolescent has a huge task of taking all of their separate identities and amalgamating them into a new self-identity.  Previously they have viewed themselves compartmentally.  They were a sister, a son, a guitar player, an artist, a friend, etc.  Now they are transforming those different roles to view themselves as a whole person.  As they are very judgmental of others and themselves, this also tends to be a time of dissonance.  This change of behavior is a normal part of the passageway to maturity.



  • Need for Peer Group

Peer relationships are of utmost importance to adolescents.  They identify strongly with their peers and have an innate need to belong.  It is important for teens to feel that they can help others and add value to their community.  They are motivated by working with peers, and often need time to “just be”.   This time alone and together with peers aids in the formation of their identity.


dearcroft / westwind
45 years...

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West Wind originated as the senior campus of Dearcroft Montessori School (est. 1968), and acted as an independent preparatory day school program offering Senior Elementary (grades 4 – 6) and Junior High (grades 7/8).  In 2008, to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Dearcroft Montessori, we combined as a single campus.  Our program is now fully operated from the Dearcroft campus at 1167 Lakeshore Road East, Oakville. 

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Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding our programs or would like to know more about West Wind, please feel free to contact us. You may email us at: or contact our office by telephone for further information.

Address: 1167 Lakeshore Road East
  Oakville, Ontario
  L6J 1L3
Telephone: (905) 844-2114
Fax: (905) 844-3529
Directors: Lynda Phippen, B.A., AMI, AMS
  Gordon Phippen, B.Sc. AMS
Administrator: Catherine DeBorba, B.A.A.