Keys to Montessori: The Planes of Development

Successive levels of education must correspond to the successive personalities of the child. Our methods are oriented not to any pre-established principles but rather to the inherent characteristics of the different ages.

- Maria Montessori

Dr. Maria Montessori observed 4 stages of development leading to adulthood. She called these stages 'Planes of Development.'

The First Plane: Ages 0 to 6

Nurtured through three progressive learning environments: the Nido, the Infant Community, and the Children's House. This plane covers physical and emotional development from birth to the age of 6.

The Second Plane: ages 6 to 12

Set in the Elementary Community, this plane addresses the child's reasoning mind, which seeks to explore and understand the world.

The Third Plane: ages 12 to 18

The adolescent years mark dramatic changes that demand a thoughtful and meaningful pedagogical approach unfortunately lacking in traditional schools. Dr. Montessori called this age group 'Erdkinder,' or 'land children. At this age, young adults, similarly to the children of the first plane, gain understanding through work. The students' physical labor in a farm enables them to continue to develop intellectually by applying concepts learned in class to real life. They re-establish their self-confidence and make connections to the larger world through direct experience.

The Fourth Plane: ages 18 to 24

Corresponding to the period when adolescents traditionally head off to college, these years are, as Dr. Montessori wrote, when the young adult 'should be as a live spark and aware of the open gate to potentialities of prospective human life and of its own possibilities and responsibilities' (The Four Planes of Education, 11).