Planes of Development-Ages 2.9 to 12
Dr. Maria Montessori identified what she called planes of development. Through careful study and observation, she discovered that human beings progress through a series of planes or stages, each of which exhibit a particular pattern of growth. Dr. Montessori compared this progress to a “series of rebirths” (Absorbent Mind, 17). She illustrated this concept by depicting a line of four triangles representing the specific ages. Each plane lasts six years and represents sensitive periods of development. These are times of special learning opportunities. The stages from 0 to 6 and 6 to 12 years of age are the most dynamic periods of intellectual, social, personal, and physical growth. The red lines represent the strengthening of the unique sensitivities of a given plane. The bottom row of numbers show the ages where the sensitivities are at their strongest.
The First Plane of Development-Birth to Age 6
The first six years of life are marked by a tremendous physical and psychological growth. The child is exploring their environments and developing their senses. During this first plane of development what happens in their very early years is unique, remarkable, and greatly responsible for shaping a child’s entire life.
The Absorbent Mind
During the first plane (birth to age 6), the child’s mind is like a sponge. They are absorbing their experiences, thoughts, and beginning to retain these messages. This is the epic journey to move from the unconscious to conscious thought.
- Sensitive periods
- Sensory impression
- Sense of order (organization)
- Detail orientated
- Refinement of senses
- Great physical growth
- Unconscious intellectual growth
- Order is a goal
- Loves to repeat
- Absorbs everything
The Second Plane of Development-Age 6 to 12
While continuing the Montessori journey, the elementary experience goes past the preschool years. These years are the time in a child’s life of the greatest intellectual energy, curiosity, and imagination. The children develop a more expansive social network as they begin to develop a more global sense of who am I. Montessori elementary students are in a new sensitive period of cultural understanding at this plane of development. They have an expansive variety of cultural studies to explore. Elementary students will compare and contrast their culture and that of classmates. This variety of academics will be studied through the curriculum of history, geography, language, arts, the sciences, and mathematics. Elementary students at this developmental plane begin to lose their need for physical order however they develop a strong moral sense of order. They have a strong sense of justice and follow rules of fairness as their role models present these values.
The Absorbent Mind – The Child
The child in the second plane (six to age twelve ) is developing a moral compass, a sense of right and wrong. They develop more genuine interests in others, classmates, and the local community. They need to be observing and hearing great stories of moral values and goodness.