Planes of Human Development

The transformation of children from birth to adulthood occurs through a series of developmental planes. Montessori practice changes in scope and manner to embrace the child's changing characteristics and interests. In the first plane from birth to age six, the child is characterized by his or her 'absorbent mind', absorbing all aspects of his or her environment, language and culture. This plane is characterized by ‘sensitive periods’ during which learning is easier or faster. In the second plane from age six to twelve, the child uses a 'reasoning mind' to explore the world with imagination and abstract thought. In the third plane from twelve to eighteen, the adolescent has a 'humanistic mind' eager to understand humanity and the contribution he or she can make to society. In the last plane of development from age eighteen to twenty four, the adult explores the world with a 'specialist mind' taking his or her place in the world. Maria Montessori believed that if education followed the natural development of the child, then society would gradually move to a higher level of co-operation, peace and harmony.