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The Four Planes of Development

February 24, 2018

The human being takes longer than any other animal to reach maturity.  Think about other animals-a horse is born and can walk within a couple of hours!  Even animals that have many stages before maturity such as insects and amphibians are mostly independent from birth.

Dr. Montessori believed that humans aren't fully developed until age 24.  She divided  human development into four distinct stages or planes, each lasting six years.  She noted that there is a physical and spiritual transformation in each stage and each stage builds upon the last.  Each stage has unique characteristics and needs depending on what it is constructing.  The human tendencies (more on this later) manifest themselves differently in each stage.

Montessori noticed that the first (birth-6) and third planes (12-18) were times of dramatic physical growth and development.  The second (6-12) and fourth planes (18-24) were stages of calm and uniform growth.

 

The First Plane

  • lasts from birth to around age six

  • the child at this stage has an Absorbent Mind (more on this later)...this means he is absorbing everything in his environment unconsciously

  • all human characteristics are constructed during this period and this construction is psychosomatic.  This means that it takes place in mind and body and cannot be changed

  • it is divided into two sub-planes, each being three years

  • the first sub-plane is referred to as the psychic or spiritual embryo period.  It is a time of acquisition and creation.  All oral language is formed during this period and the child gathers all sensorial experiences and basic knowledge

  • the second sub-plane is a time for refinement of knowledge and skills acquired in the first sub-plane.  The child starts to classify and consolidate experiences gathered before age three

 

The Second Plane

 

  • referred to as childhood

  • the child at this stage is aged six to twelve

  • the reasoning mind starts functioning and the child starts asking “why?”

  • explores with the imagination

  • the child wants to know the reasons behind fact

  • morality starts to grow and develop and the child starts to look for justice, setting rules among peers

  • the child is more adventurous and daring and has an incredible capacity for knowledge

 

The Third Plane

 

  • referred to as adolescence

  • the child is now twelve to eighteen years of age

  • period of physical, hormonal and emotional changes

  • the third plane is divided into two sub-planes.  The first (12-15 years old) is a period of acquisition and the second (15-18 years old) is a time of consolidation.

  • Dr. Montessori suggested that there is a second opportunity if something did not go well during first plane to re-edit and gather what is lacking during this period

 

The Fourth Plane

 

  • referred to as maturity

  • from age eighteen to twenty-four

  • it is a time that is stable, both physically and psychologically

  • the young adult being has clear ideas and beliefs and has now become a citizen of the world

  • he is looking for an opportunity to work, to gain economic independence and find ways to give back to society for all that he has received

 

How Adults Can Help

  • be aware of the characteristics of the that stage, so they are able to support and provide a prepared environment

  • observe

  • support

  • establish routines, consistency and order

  • be a good role model

 

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