Montessori Glossary Community Project

Planes of development

Refers to the four stages of human development described by Montessori's stage theory. Each plane represents a specific period of growth and learning, characterized by unique developmental powers, characteristics, needs, and tasks. The four planes of development describe the dynamic and holistic journey of human development into adulthood, encompassing physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of life. The successful work of creation in one plane is essential for the successful outcome in the next. The four planes are as follows:
The First Plane (Birth - 6 years old) sets the foundation for the formation of the individual, encompassing two sub-planes: age 0-3 (unconscious creation) and age 3-6 (conscious worker/crystallization). The powers of the first plane include the absorbent mind and the sensitive periods. Characteristics include unconscious absorption, concrete manipulation, sensorial exploration, maximum effort, and parallel learning. Providing physiological and psychological nurture and protection is crucial during this stage.
The Second Plane (6 - 12 years old) witnesses the development of the individual and the acquisition of culture. Reason and imagination become prominent powers. As children seek to expand their horizons beyond the closed environment, they display a profound interest in justice, energy conservation, collaborative learning, intellectual exploration, abstract thinking, and social organization, with the emergence of a moral sense. The needs of the second plane include intellectual and social stimulation and opportunities for exploration and learning.
The Third Plane (12 - 18 years old) unfolds as the socially conscious individual seeks their place in society. The third plane's powers encompass physical (sexual transformation) and psychological (exploration and experimentation with interpersonal relationships) aspects. The characteristics that underpin this stage are physical and hormonal changes of puberty, physical and mental instability, apparently diminished intellectual capacity, a 'social newborn' transitioning from childhood to adulthood, and a strong interest in exploring all aspects of human social life. Supporting children in navigating these physical and emotional transformations and providing opportunities for social exploration and self-discovery is critical during this stage.
The Fourth Plane (18 - 24 years old) materializes with the development of the individual as a social being, preparing to fulfill their role in society. The motivation to pursue specialized knowledge for specific forms of human work becomes a central driving force. Individuals are intensely interested in engaging with human work, achieving physical and mental stability, and assuming responsibility within their social milieu. Creating an environment that fosters open-ended intellectual stimulation, facilitates learning tailored to chosen vocations, and encourages the tempering of idealistic notions through concrete life experiences is essential.