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  • montessorausmama

The four planes of development Birth-24 years

Before a baby, child or even an adult's actions can be understood, the different stages and purposes of development must be recognised. This is what Maria Montessori called the four planes of development. Each plane has different characteristics, developments, influences and motivators.





First plane: Infancy-Birth-6 Years

This plane, goes from birth to 6 years of age and is split into two differing subplanes. The first from birth to age 3, and the second starting at age 3 up until age 6. Throughout the first plane, the child has what Maria Montessori called the absorbent mind, and you can observe the differences between the subplanes both physically and psychologically.


Physically, the child of 0-3 starts with no control over their movements, having no teeth, their digestive system being too immature for real food, and being incapable of communicating,


By the end of the first subplane, they have developed a full set of milk teeth, being able to walk and run, eating full meals with the adults in their environment and are able to talk to some degree.


The same change can be seen in the psychological characteristics of this sub plane also. The child is born with no mental faculties, unable to recognise language, no autonomy, and having no ready made intelligence.


However towards the end of this subplane they are able to recognise the language within their environment and speak simple parts of it, they are able to make choices for themself and have the ability to do things independently if their environment has provided the opportunity to do so.


The second sub phase of the Infancy plane starts around age 3 and goes up until age 6. The child in this sub plane is starting to see things differently.


They are now thinking logically and making sense of their environment. They have the potential to exceed previous gross motor capabilities, to become even more independent and increase their vocabulary to full sentences.


Towards the end of this subplane the child is starting to lose their milk teeth to make way for adult teeth, they’re frame has become less “baby-like”, their hair is coarser and often darker. It is a completely different child to that of the one at the start of the infancy plane.





Second plane: Childhood-6-12 years

This plane goes from age 6 to age 12. The child of the second plane is noticeably physically different to that of the first plane child. His body is now stronger, with more energy, his adult teeth come through and by this point the child has almost, if not, full physical independence.


In this plane the child is no longer a sensorial learner, but rather is capable of understanding the abstract and is able to imagine something being described to him.

For example with a second plane child you can explain to them what a pyramid simply by describing it and the childs now abstract brain can understand it. But a first plane child can't, they need to be given a pyramid.


He is also equipped with a reasoning mind, is gaining his own moral compass of what he feels is right or wrong and may even be observed as “tattling” in an attempt to seek out what is right or wrong within his environment. This child is now also looking to explore his independence outside of his home, connect with his peers and work collaboratively.


The child in the first plane was asking a lot of “What?” questions to make sense of his environment. The child of the second plane however is now seeking to understand how things in his environment work and why they happen the way they do.


Now they are asking "How?" and "Why?" They begin to see all the things their absorbent mind took in, but with new abstract eyes of a different child.


The third plane: Adolescence-12-18 years

The third plane, Adolescence, goes from age 12-18 and much like the first plane is split into two sub planes, 12-15 and 15-18. In this plane the child is no longer, and instead takes on the form much like the adult.


They start puberty, their body starts to grow hair in new places and change shape drastically, for example a girl's breasts growing larger. It’s very obvious the physical change happening within this plane. In the first subplane they are more prone to illness and tiredness. Whereas in the second subplane, they are better able to manage their body.


Psychologically speaking, the adolescent becomes much like they did in the first plane of development, and become more focused on themselves once again.



The focus is no longer on who they are within their family and home but much more about who they are within themself. They discover their sexual identity and feelings. They again seek that independence of the first plane but, emotional independence, not just in their home and of their body.


They seek to receive the respect that adults receive, rightly so as they are becoming an adult. They need space to discover their true identities and still have a nurturing respectful environment to feel safe in.


The Fourth plane: Maturity-18-24 years

The fourth and final plane of development, Maturity, goes from age 18-24. There are no physical changes in this plane beyond ageing as their adult body was fully formed in adolescence.


But psychologically there is another big shift. The shift towards work. Choosing their vocation for life. This plane of development has a desire for financial independence and wanting to no longer be in need of financial support of others. There are no limits for his educational and cultural explorations.


After the age of 24 the man has within himself all the skills and developments made in previous planes at his disposal and is free to choose his path. He continues to develop on a personal level, but no longer on a scale or timeline comparative to all other humans.



All human beings must go through these 4 planes of development. We must acknowledge and understand that each plane of development has different characteristics, purposes and motivators. Therefore they require different environments, and support from the adults around them in order to develop to their full potential