The Montessori approach to learning is notable for its ability to take cues from the child’s natural development and progression. There is no better proof of this than the 4 planes of development, which is the crux of the Montessori theory. According to Maria Montessori, there are 4 planes of development that represent a series of developmental stages that a child goes through naturally.
While every child is unique, most of them follow a specific pattern in terms of brain development that also signals their readiness to learn a particular skill. To help you better understand how this development occurs in your child in terms of its progression from one stage to another; let’s take a closer look at the Montessori planes of development that govern their method of teaching.
First Plane: Infancy (Birth to 6 years)
The first plane is known as the infancy period, or the birth of your child up to 6 years of age. At this stage in a child’s development, their brain works like sponges. They absorb everything. However, Maria Montessori divides this into two sub-categories.
During the first three years of a child’s life, they have what the Montessori theory refers to as “The Unconscious Absorbent Mind”. This is a sensitive period because all of the child’s learning is done outside of his or her conscious mind. They develop their basic sensory powers by interacting with the environment and those around them.
Once the child enters 3 years of age, they will develop what is known as “The Conscious Absorbent Mind”. At this stage, your child can initiate learning with the use of their hands and limbs. The child is no longer a passive learner; they are conscious and eager to explore their environment. According to Montessori, this stage is known as the “blessed age of play”. Through play combined with learning, they can improve language, cognitive, and physical skills.
Second Plane: Childhood (6 to 12 years)
Childhood represents the second stage in the Montessori planes of development. This stage is characterized by mental independence and the child’s strong thirst for knowledge. There is a mentality of “I can think it myself!” that is brewing at this stage.
While the growth happens at a slower and calmer pace, it does not stop. The Montessori approach to learning puts emphasis on moral reasoning. This is the stage when a child discovers the sense of right or wrong. They also develop a sense of moral order; this is the best time to show your child how they can help others.
At the same time, a child learns about their place in the world. It is the best time to learn about their culture and that of others so they can have a better understanding about the world around them.
All of these learning are also punctuated by a child’s sudden period of physical growth. This is in part contributor to their increased desire for learning as they observe the changes within their own physical bodies.
Third Plane: Adolescence (12-18 years)
The third plane of the Montessori theory of development is the adolescent stage. This stage of development marks the period of social independence. The second stage of development is when the child becomes aware of social connections and the people around them. However, this awareness becomes more significant at this stage.
As your child builds relationships with their peers, they feel a strong desire to gain independence from adults (including their parents). They seek out authentic learning experiences. The child fosters their own construct of self so they can develop traits that will make them independent members of the society.
Consequently, your child’s moral compass will start to take a more definitive form at this stage of development. Because of this, this stage is also where they are most psychologically vulnerable. They will develop doubts, discouragement, and all sorts of emotions.
This is why Montessori learning recommends the “Landchildren” approach. This method of learning invites adolescents to participate in productive work so they feel validated and valued. It helps to boost their confidence about themselves and their abilities.
Fourth Plane: Maturity (18 to 24 years)
The maturity stage represents the last of the Montessori planes of development. It occurs once your child enters the age of 18. This is the stage that marks your child’s desire for financial independence. It is marked by that “I can get it myself” mentality.
A well-rounded Montessori student will have the personality and values that are essential for them to live a balanced life. Most, if not all, should have an idea of who they are as individuals at this stage. This will serve as their guide when making decisions about which career paths to pursue. They should already have a sense of where they fit into the society.