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The Four Planes of Development

by Nadine Elmgren
Friday, February 11, 2022
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During recent faculty meetings we've enjoyed lively conversations about how children at each level adapt and explore independence in our classrooms. It is fascinating to take a philosophical topic and see how it manifests in our learners across the span of their time at The Children’s House. 

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Through her observations, Dr. Montessori recognized that humans have four stages of development, which she referred to as The Four Planes of Development. She noted that children pass through these phases as they construct the person they are becoming, and that in each plane they have different needs and psychological characteristics.

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Our discussions beautifully illustrated how our classroom environments are designed around the physical, psychological, social, and intellectual traits of each age group. Dr. Montessori divided each plane of development into three-year sub-planes. 

The first plane (ages 0-3 and 3-6) is the setting of childhood, the structure, the foundation. The first plane of a child’s life is one of adapting to the world around them. 

The second plane (ages 6-9 and 9-12) is the crystallization of childhood. These children are wanting to know “why”. Their work is independent thinking and moral and social development. 

In the third plane (ages 12-15 and 15-18), the student is asking, “Who am I?” They seek to understand their place in society and to contribute to the community around them. (Being downtown is ideal for our adolescents to be able to do this in a real life context!)

The fourth plane (ages 18-24) is a time of setting out independently and achieving economic independence.

Our classrooms are prepared environments that directly reflect Dr. Montessori’s understanding of how humans develop. Having work suited to natural inclinations, leads to happy learners, which you can attest to when you step inside our school.

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by the experiences in the environment.” ~Maria Montessori