• youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • insta
  • login

Planes of Development

banner banner

Maria Montessori's research identified four unique stages of development from birth to early adulthood, which she called planes of development. She observed that each plane is characterised by specific sensitive periods where children display particular needs, characteristics, and behaviours. During these sensitive periods, children experience intense developmental transformations, after which comes a period of consolidation. In this phase, children display a newfound confidence in the skills they have acquired.

From birth to the age of six, children’s development is categorised into two stages: from birth to three years old and from three to six years old. During this time, children typically divide their time between home and school.

In the first three years

Children alternate between time spent at home and, starting at age three, time in an educational setting, such as a nursery or preschool. At this young age, with rosy cheeks and untamed hair, children have a deep need for love and nurturing. Although adults provide essential support, children’s development is predominantly self-directed as they strive to fulfil their internal needs. During this initial developmental stage, children are like sponges, absorbing cultural and environmental influences through what Maria Montessori termed the ‘absorbent mind’. This stage includes the sensitive period of movement, language, toileting, order, and social graces.

In this critical phase, children place a high value on their individuality. They seek social interaction and independence from an early age, even before reaching three years old. Addressing these needs is crucial. Adults can help by creating environments tailored to the child’s size and cognitive level, enabling them to engage and exercise their independence. Through meaningful activity, children learn they can accomplish goals through their own efforts.

How to Support your Child

  • Recognise that excessive assistance can be ineffective; instead, foster independence.
  • Provide a prepared environment that allows them to act independently and make their own choices within safe boundaries. True freedom involves the ability to take independent action, not the absence of structure or rules.
  • Involve your child in practical household tasks that are natural opportunities for imitation and purposeful activity. Children enjoy imitating adult roles and participating in tasks such as sweeping, dusting, and dressing.
  • Give your child space to make mistakes and face challenges, offering assistance only when they ask for it. This method develops perseverance and problem-solving skills.
  • Support your child’s needs to undertake challenging tasks independently, stepping back when they have a desire to do things by themselves, thus respecting their search for independence.

Children at this developmental stage

Divide their time between the familiarity of home and the structured setting of school, usually beginning formal education around age four. They have an intrinsic need for affection and guidance. Although they receive and seek out this guidance, it is essential to recognise that their personal growth also requires them to meet specific fundamental needs independently. During this second part of the first plane, children are characterised by sensitive periods for language, social graces, music, reading, writing, social relationships, and math.

These children are self-engaged and possess an intense need for physical independence, often displaying a 'Help me to do it myself' attitude. This phase is crucial, as it lays the foundation for their emerging personalities.

Children are naturally active at this stage, and through practical activities, they not only refine their motor skills and intellect but also grasp concepts previously considered too advanced for their age. Continuous observation demonstrates that children have the potential to learn at a younger age than traditionally expected.

How to Support your Child

  • Understand that unnecessary help may hinder rather than aid their development.
  • Provide an environment where your child can initiate actions independently. Freedom should not be confused with a right but should be recognised as the ability to act independently.
  • Encourage help in household tasks as children enjoy mimicking adult behaviour and get satisfaction from purposeful activities like sweeping, dusting, and dressing.
  • Allow your child to make errors and face difficult tasks, intervening only when they ask for help, which respects their striving for independence.
  • Support your child's attempts at challenging tasks they choose, respecting their refusal of help as a sign of their independence.
  • If your child shows interest in something that seems too advanced, let them explore it. Should it prove too complex, guide them towards similar but more age-appropriate activities.
Book A Call

You can have a call with me