Montessori stages of development: The 4 planes

Montessori stages of development

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What are Montessori stages of development?

The Montessori stages of development, called four planes of development are:

  1. Infancy: Birth to age 6, known as the absorbent mind.
  2. Childhood: Ages 6–12, known as the conscious imagination.
  3. Adolescence: Ages 12–18, known as the new identity.
  4. Maturity: Ages 18–24, known as maturity.


The Montessori stages of development are distinct periods in your child’s life, each characterized by unique developmental needs, challenges, and growth opportunities. 

Each plane lasts about six years and has two sub-planes of three years each. Each stage is divided in half, with the first half focusing on development and the second half on consolidation. 

I have over 15 years of experience working with children and I can assure you that these stages of development in Montessori will guide you in understanding your child’s evolving nature and providing appropriate support and guidance. 

So let’s go ahead and digest each plane of development in more detail.

Montessori stages of development the 4 planes of development

First Plane of Development: Infancy (Birth to Age 6)

The first plane of development spans from birth to around six years of age and this is when your child will experience rapid physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional growth. 

This phase is characterized by your child’s absorbent mind, where they absorb everything from their environment because their brain acts as a sponge.

And this lays the foundation for future learning and development because they are taking in so much information that is crucial for their overall growth.

This is why it is very important to create a safe learning environment where your child can safely explore independently.




Learning to crawl, stand, and walk.

Refining gross motor skills.

Acquiring language skills.

Deepening language skills.

Developing fine motor skills.

Mastering fine motor skills.

Exploring the sensory environment.

Further exploring sensory discrimination.

Forming attachments and relationships.

Strengthening social skills.


Second Plane of Development: Childhood (Ages 6 to 12)

The second plane of development spans from ages six to twelve and marks a period of intellectual exploration and social development. 

Your child will transition from concrete to abstract thinking, as they seek to understand complex concepts and establish their place in society.

You will notice that your child will naturally want to learn more about the world because their knowledge is driven by their innate curiosity to explore.

This is also an important stage where your child can develop a sense of empathy and understanding and begin to advocate for fairness and equality.




Transitioning from concrete to abstract thinking.

Deepening understanding of abstract concepts.

Exploring interests and passions.

Engaging in long-term projects.

Developing a sense of morality and empathy.

Internalizing moral values.

Forming friendships and navigating social dynamics.

Cultivating meaningful friendships.

Demonstrating increasing independence.

Taking on leadership roles.


Third Plane of Development: Adolescence (Ages 12 to 18)

This is where kids start to get very interesting.

Adolescence spans from ages twelve to eighteen and is a period where your child begins to form emotions and identification. 

Adolescents explore their sense of self, establish personal values, and navigate the complexities of social relationships.

Kids will go through puberty, learn more about their bodies, and undergo great physical and emotional changes.

They will also seek to identify their life’s purpose and career aspirations which prompts them to further explore their passions and interests.

At this age, many adolescents begin to create a strong desire to change the world and make a difference.




Exploring personal identity, values, and beliefs.

Consolidating personal identity and values.

Seeking independence from authority figures.

Establishing autonomy and self-reliance.

Developing a sense of purpose and direction.

Pursuing personal growth and development.

Navigating romantic relationships.

Nurturing meaningful relationships.

Exploring interests and talents.

Planning for the future.


Fourth Plane of Development: Maturity (Ages 18 to 24)

Adolescents will transition to adulthood.

This stage lasts from ages eighteen to twenty-four and is a period of deep personal growth and self-discovery. 

At this stage, young adults prepare for independence, pursue higher education, establish careers, and navigate romantic relationships.

They also begin to take charge of their lives, prioritize their goals and aspirations, and learn how to balance work, relationships, and personal well-being.

As they progress in this stage, they will embrace lifelong learning and personal development.




Transitioning to adulthood.

Establishing identity and purpose in adulthood.

Pursuing higher education or entering the workforce.

Establishing independence and self-sufficiency.

Establishing financial independence.

Cultivating long-term relationships.

Navigating romantic relationships or starting a family.

Balancing career aspirations with personal fulfillment.

Continuing personal growth and development.

Embracing ongoing learning and adaptation.


How Montessori supports each plane of development

As you already know, I have been teaching in a Montessori setting for a very long time. 

What I like about this philosophy is that Montessori education embraces the holistic development of your child by providing environments that cater to their evolving needs. 

Your child will be encouraged to explore, discover, and learn at their own pace when you provide a carefully prepared environment and materials.

This fosters independence and a love for learning as your child seeks more challenges and nurtures their curiosity on their own. 

Now, you must see each plane of development as a crucial stage in your child’s journey toward becoming a well-rounded individual.

And when you tailor the activities and learning tools that are appropriate for your child, you will continue to constantly provide your child with the right developmental challenge.

Why each plane of development matters

I highly believe that understanding the significance of the Montessori stages of development is essential in supporting your child’s growth. 

The first plane of development, for instance, lays the groundwork for future learning and shapes a child’s attitudes toward themselves and the world around them. 

It’s during this stage that your child forms their sense of self and develops crucial skills such as language, motor coordination, and social interaction. 

The second plane of development is a period of rapid intellectual and social growth, where your child will refine their critical thinking skills, empathy, and sense of responsibility towards themselves and others. 

Adolescence is marked by intense self-discovery and identity formation which is crucial for you to provide support and guidance as your child navigates the challenges of puberty and strives to establish their place in the world.

How can you apply each plane to your children?

I always encourage parents to be fully involved in their child’s development so they don’t miss critical milestones. 

With this information, you can create a nurturing and supportive environment at home that aligns with your child’s developmental needs. 

For example, during the first plane, you can provide age-appropriate toys and materials that stimulate the senses and promote exploration and independence. 

I also encourage you to establish routines because they can provide a sense of security and predictability while allowing for flexibility and spontaneity. 

During the second plane, you can support your child’s intellectual and social development by encouraging curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking through engaging activities and meaningful conversations. 

During the third plane, you can encourage self-discovery and identity formation by providing opportunities for exploration and self-expression.

This promotes open communication and supports autonomy and independence while you offer guidance and support as needed.

And in the fourth stage, you can guide your child in their career development as they begin to build a life of their own.

What to do next?

At first, it may seem a bit complicated to understand the four planes of development but honestly, it is just a matter of observing your child’s interests and providing tools and materials to challenge their development.

The first step is to create a Montessori environment that is appropriate for your child’s age. Then provide developmental materials that will keep your child engaged all the time. 

About Leslie - Latinx Montessori

Hello, I am Leslie. I am on a mission to help you support the growth and development of your child. With the right tools and proper guidance, you can navigate parenthood with confidence and assertion! My goal is to equip you with knowledge to help you construct a strong foundation for your child’s life.

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