"I have found that in his development, the child passes through certain phases, each of which has its own particular needs. The characteristics of each are so different that the passages from one phase to another have been described by certain psychologists as ‘rebirths’.
– Dr. Maria Montessori (From Childhood to Adolescence)
Dr. Maria Montessori termed the stages from birth to adulthood “The Four Planes of Development.”
These planes of development, take into account the social, cognitive, moral, and biological changes of the individual from birth to maturity, around age 24. They address the ways that personality, cognitive ability, and behavior change during each distinct phase.
The stages of development are grouped in six-year cycles
- infancy/early childhood – birth to age 6 years,
- childhood – ages 6 to 12 years
- adolescence – ages 12 to 18 years
- early adulthood – ages 18 to 24 years
The first and second planes form the years of childhood, and the third and fourth planes form the passage into adulthood.
The first plane is for the formation, or creation, of the individual and the second plane is for the development of the individual. The third plane brings another creation, the adult in society and the fourth plane develops that creation.
At each plane of development, a particular level of independence is attained. In the first plane, the child strives for functional independence. Dr. Montessori emphasized this as a child saying to an adult,
“Help me to do it by myself.” At the second plane, this changes to, “Help me to think for myself,” as the child works towards intellectual independence. At the third plane, the adolescent moves toward social/emotional independence; “Help me find myself.” At the fourth plane, early adulthood, the young adult strives for economic independence; “Help me to support myself.”
As the child moves from one plane to another, the adult must recognize the physical and mental manifestations at each stage and prepare an environment suited to those needs. In this environment, the child can act freely, performing the work necessary for his own self-construction,guided by his own inner laws of development.
"My vision of the future is no longer of people taking exams and proceeding on that certification…but of individuals passing from one stage of independence to a higher, by means of their own activity, through their own effort of will, which constitutes the inner evolution of the individual. "