Montessori Planes of Development




The image shows a vibrant Montessori classroom scene with children of various descents engaged in educational activities. A child of Middle-Eastern descent is using Montessori counting beads, a child of South Asian descent is reading a picture book, and a child of Hispanic descent is working on a geometric shape puzzle. The room is bathed in natural light with wooden Montessori materials on low shelves, creating a calm, orderly environment that encourages exploration and independent learning.

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The Montessori Planes of Development provide a unique perspective on the evolving journey of human growth. Originating from Dr. Maria Montessori’s extensive observations of children, these planes delineate distinct stages of development, each with its own set of needs, tendencies, and potentialities.

In Maria Montessori’s developmental psychology, she identified sensitive periods during which children are especially attuned to learn particular skills. By understanding these developmental stages, educators, parents, and caregivers can create environments that nurture and respond to the intrinsic needs of children at each phase, setting the foundation for holistic and meaningful learning.

Join us as we explore the nuances of these transformative planes and their profound implications for childhood education.

Key Takeaways: Montessori Planes of Development

  1. First Plane: Birth to 6 Years (Absorbent Mind). During this phase, children are highly receptive and learn effortlessly, absorbing information from their environment.
  2. Second Plane: 6 to 12 Years (Reasoning Mind). This period is characterized by a growing desire to understand the world intellectually, with an emphasis on imagination and socialization.
  3. Third Plane: 12 to 18 Years (Social Self). Adolescents seek to understand their identity and place in society, with a focus on emotional development and moral values.
  4. Fourth Plane: 18 to 24 Years (Moral and Ethical Self). Young adults develop personal independence, focusing on understanding their role in the world and their moral and ethical responsibilities.
  5. Each Plane Has Unique Characteristics and Needs. Montessori education tailors its approach to suit the developmental stages and characteristics of each plane.
  6. Education Shifts from Concrete to Abstract Thinking. Early stages focus on concrete learning, while later stages move towards abstract thought and conceptual understanding.
  7. Emphasis on Developmental Appropriateness. Activities and curriculum in Montessori settings are designed to align with the cognitive and emotional development at each plane.
  8. Focus on Holistic Development. Montessori emphasizes the growth of the whole person, including intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development across all planes.

The First Plane of Development (Birth-six years)

The first plane of development spans from birth to six years of age and is characterized by tremendous physical, cognitive, and emotional growth. It is during this plane that children construct their sense of self, language skills, and abilities to navigate their environment.

During the first plane, children work effortlessly to absorb information from their environment as they strive for a physical and biological independence. They are driven to explore and make sense of the world around them, using their senses to learn, adapt, and develop their understanding of various concepts.

Children in this plane have a strong desire for order and routine, as can be found in a Montessori education. They thrive in predictable environments that provide them with a sense of security and consistency. Their routines help child development as they develop self-discipline and a sense of independence.

First Planes Divisions

Within the first plane, there are two distinct divisions: 0-3 years and 3-6 years. These divisions mark significant developmental milestones and changes in the child’s abilities and needs.

In the 0-3 years period, often referred to as the ‘infant’ or ‘Toddler’ stage, children are focused on building trust, developing language skills, and refining their motor abilities. This stage is characterized by rapid physical and cognitive growth and a montessori school will cater around this sensitive period with their curriculum.

As children transition into the 3-6 years period, often known as the ‘primary age,’ they become more independent, refine their language skills, and develop social relationships with their peers. This period is marked by the growth of their imagination and the refinement of their cognitive abilities.

The Second Plane of Development (Six-Twelve Years)

The second plane of development spans from six to twelve years of age and is a period of tremendous intellectual and social growth. Children at this stage transition from the concrete thinking of the first plane to more abstract and logical reasoning, and begin intellectual independence.

During the second plane, the child’s development includes developing a strong sense of justice, moral principles, and the ability to think critically. They begin to question the world around them and develop a desire to understand the reasoning behind rules and concepts.

Imagination and creativity flourish during this stage, allowing children to explore diverse interests and hobbies. They become more independent in their thinking and decision-making, actively seeking opportunities for problem-solving and exploration and this is catered for in Montessori schools.

The second plane of development is a critical period for shaping a child’s academic focus. They develop a deep curiosity for learning and acquire a variety of knowledge across various subjects. This is an opportune time to introduce interdisciplinary learning, stimulating their curiosity and encouraging independent exploration.

It is during this plane that children develop a love for literature, science, mathematics, history, and other subjects. Their brains are ripe for absorbing information, and educators can leverage their intellectual capabilities to foster a lifelong love for learning.

The Third Plane of Development (Twelve-Eighteen Years)

The third plane of development spans from twelve to eighteen years of age and marks the onset of adolescence. It brings about significant physical, emotional, and intellectual changes in a child’s life.

Adolescence is a period of great change and exploration. During the third plane, young individuals undergo significant physical transformations, experience hormonal changes, and begin to develop their own identity and belief systems.

The third plane is characterized by a strong need for social interaction and the formation of deep and meaningful relationships with peers. Adolescents want to establish their independence, challenging authority, and developing a sense of self.

The third plane can be further divided into early adolescence (twelve to fifteen years) and late adolescence (fifteen to eighteen years). Each division brings its own set of challenges and opportunities for growth.

In early adolescence, young individuals experience rapid physical changes, emotional fluctuations, and the development of abstract thinking. They seek to understand their own identity and assert their independence.

Late adolescence is a time of consolidation, where individuals further refine their identity and make decisions about their future. They explore career options, establish personal values, and deepen their understanding of the world.

The Fourth Plane of Development (Eighteen-Twenty Four Years)

The fourth plane of development spans from eighteen to twenty-four years of age, signifying the transition into adulthood and moral independence. It is a period where young adults establish themselves as independent individuals, ready to contribute to society.

During the fourth plane, young adults experience significant personal, academic, and professional growth. They become more focused on their career goals and aspirations, establishing their place in the world and developing a sense of purpose.

The fourth plane represents the culmination of years of education and personal development. It is a time of self-reflection and introspection, where individuals explore their own values, passions, and life goals.

The fourth plane of development plays a crucial role in preparing young adults for independence. It provides them with the necessary skills, knowledge, and experiences to navigate the complexities of adult life successfully.

Through education, internships, mentorship programs, and real-world experiences, young adults learn to apply their skills and knowledge to real-life situations. They develop problem-solving abilities, communication skills, and adaptability, which are essential for their personal and professional growth.


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