Planes of Development

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Four Planes of Development

"We know how to find pearls in the shells of oysters, gold in the mountains, and coal in the bowels of the earth,

but we are unaware of the spiritual gems, the creative nebulae, that the child hides in himself

when he enters this world to renew mankind."

The Absorbent Mind, Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori's Four Planes of Education was a lecture given by her in 1938 at the Seventh International Montessori Congress.

The four planes (or phases) of development is an overall vision of Montessori's developmental psychology from infancy to adulthood. Her vision of the whole of development provides a holistic view of the developing human being, and explains the Montessori idea of the importance of education as a "help to life".

One of the great distinguishing features of Montessori's work was the discovery of the cyclical and sequential nature of these four planes for every child, and the inherent non-repeatable nature of each of these planes.

Each plane of development provides the optimal time for learning in specific areas; the best time to learn a skill completely so that it forms part of the human being. Learning skills outside of these optimal times is less effective and more difficult for the child. As educators, schools and parents alike, it is critical that we educate in complete harmony with these planes of development.

Montessori identifies the four Planes as:

Infancy 0- 6 years

Childhood 6-12 years

Adolescence 12-18 years

Maturity 18-24 years

1. Infancy (0 - 6 years)

This plane is of fundamental importance for the formation of the individual.

a) Unconscious Creator

The infant, from zero to three, is identified by Maria Montessori as a "spiritual embryo", as the infant has within themselves the "potentialities which determine his or her development." There exists, within this inert being, a global power, a human creative essence, which drives the infant to form a...
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