Planes of Development

@ Community Montessori

One of Dr. Maria Montessori’s observations was that children go through phases of development from birth to adulthood. These phases are known as the planes of development. Dr. Montessori compared them to the phases a butterfly goes through from larva to butterfly. Each plane of development is unique and as children  progresses through them, it is as if they  have reinvented themselves.  

While each plane is unique, it leads into the next naturally and with particular developmental goals in mind. Each plane is also marked with sensitive periods where the child’s interests are focused on a developmentally particular skill or knowledge area. 


Children in this plane of development explore their world and learn through their senses. They examine everything in their environment, language, and culture. Their little minds are referred to as “sponges” because they absorb so much, so quickly. 

It is crucial that children this age have an environment that is orderly, beautiful, and made specifically for them. This environment includes materials that spark curiosity and guide them through important concepts. Children this age focus on themselves and desire to be physically independent. You will notice an “I can do it myself” mentality.  Community Montessori’s Primary program is designed for this plane of development. 

CHILDHOOD: Ages 6 – 12

Children in this plane have new creative capabilities and the capacity for more reasoned and abstract thought. They have a desire to be intellectually independent. You will notice an “I can think it” mentality. They use knowledge to further explore their environments. 

Children are developing their sense of right and wrong. This is a great time for  children to learn about fairness and how to help others. Children learn “cosmic education” during this plane, which assists them in exploring their place within the world and appreciate the interconnectedness of all things. Community Montessori’s Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary are designed for this plane of development. 

ADOLESCENCE: Ages 12 – 18

Children in this plane are developing and changing physically and are naturally vulnerable and self-conscious. They are in the sensitive period for critical thinking and exploring deeper moral and social values. This is characterized with feelings of self-concern and self-assessment. They have the desire to be emotionally independent. You will notice an “I can stand on my own” mentality. They are ready to become independent leaders who are responsible and have a strong need for creativity and self-expression. 

It is important that students this age engage in genuine, purposeful work that captivates their minds and bodies. In this plane, adolescents work on constructing their social self and feel the need to have more control over their lives. Community Montessori’s Junior High is designed for this plane of development.