Planes of Development (Montessori)

From Montepedia

In Montessori education, the Planes of Development refer to specific stages of human development, spanning from birth to maturity. These stages, proposed by Maria Montessori, are fundamental to her theories of developmental psychology, and provide insight into the developmental milestones of a child. The framework is comprised of four distinct stages[1]:

The First Plane: Birth to Age 6 (Early Childhood/Infancy) – "The Absorbent Mind" The Second Plane: Ages 6–12 (Childhood) – "Conscious Imagination" The Third Plane: Ages 12–18 (Adolescence) – "New Identity" The Fourth Plane: Ages 18–24 (Maturity) – "Maturity"

Montessori Quotes

  • "The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six."[2]
  • "The child has a different relation to his environment from ours... the child absorbs it. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul."[3]

Characteristics and Sensitivities

Each plane of development is characterized by specific sensitivities – periods where the child exhibits an innate interest or sensitivity to certain aspects of their environment. These sensitivities guide the child’s experiences and provide golden opportunities for learning and development. Key sensitivities in each plane include language and movement (first plane), abstraction and imagination (second plane), social justice and role models (third plane), and social independence and personal responsibility (fourth plane).[4]

Research and Critiques

  • Pros: The notion of planes of development provides a comprehensive framework for understanding human development from birth to adulthood. This approach respects individual variations in development, acknowledges the importance of sensitive periods, and emphasises that education should correspond to the child's developmental needs.[5]
  • Cons: Critics argue that the division of human development into distinct stages might overlook the continuous and overlapping nature of development. They caution that rigid adherence to the notion of planes of development could lead to a disregard for individual variations in pace and timing of development.[6]

Comparisons to Other Methods

Unlike other approaches that view development as a continuous process, Montessori’s planes of development present a stage-based perspective. This is somewhat similar to Erikson's and Piaget's stage theories, though Montessori's stages are characterized by unique attributes and sensitivities.[7]

See Also

Glossary of Montessori Terms

The Glossary of Montessori Terms is a collection of specific terms and vocabulary that are related to the Montessori method of education, primarily focusing on the theory and practice for children aged 3 to 6. The jargon used by Montessori educators offers a unique insight into child development as discussed by Maria Montessori. The 'Montepedia Glossary of Montessori Terms' originated from a glossary that was compiled by the late Annette Haines from the Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis, at the request of Molly O'Shaughnessy from the Montessori Centre of Minnesota. The reason behind the creation of this glossary was to supplement O'Shaughnessy's lecture at the Joint Annual Refresher Course that took place in Tampa, Florida, in February 2001.[8] The glossary has since been expanded and updated with additional 'Montessori Terms'.

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  1. Montessori, M. (1948). To Educate the Human Potential. ADEPS.
  2. Montessori, M. (1989). The Absorbent Mind. Clio Press.
  3. Montessori, M. (1995). The Absorbent Mind. Henry Holt and Co.
  4. Lillard, A. S. (2005). Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. Oxford University Press.
  5. Lillard, A. S. (2005). Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. Oxford University Press.
  6. Piaget, J. (1972). The Psychology of the Child. Basic Books.
  7. Mooney, C. G. (2000). Theories of Childhood: An Introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget, and Vygotsky. Redleaf Press.
  8. Haines, A. (2001). Glossary of Montessori Terms. Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis.