Planes of Development
One of Maria Montessori's most important observations was that as children grow from birth to adulthood they move through a series of developmental phases, which she termed planes of development.
Dr. Montessori likened the stark differences between developmental stages to the metamorphosis from larva to butterfly – where each phase is so different that the organism appears to have reinvented itself.
While each plane is markedly different from the others, all have specific and natural developmental goals. Each plane is also marked by sensitive periods where children seek specific stimuli with such intensity that they can easily master a skill. An example is a young child’s ability to acquire multiple languages with relative ease. Success in each plane is dependent upon how well developmental needs were met in the previous plane.
Infancy: Birth to age 6
Children in the first plane of development explore the world through their senses. They delight in examining every aspect of their environments, language, and culture - their young minds often likened to "sponges" that absorb everything around them. It is important that children this age learn in cheerful spaces that are beautifully outfitted with materials to intrigue and guide them through basic learning concepts. Hollis Montessori's Primary program is designed for children in the first plane of development.
Childhood: ages 6 - 12
Children in the second plane have new powers of imagination and the capacity for more reasoned and abstract thought. They use knowledge to further explore and expand their worlds. It is important for children this age to engage in activities that connect acting and thinking, as their experiences bring answers as to how and why things function as they do. Hollis Montessori's Elementary program is designed for children in the second plane of development.
Adolescence: ages 12 - 18
Students in the adolescent plane are in a state of physical change, and are naturally vulnerable and self-conscious. They have a strong need for moral dignity and social justice, and are beginning to ask existential questions about who they are, where they fit into the world, and how they can contribute to society. They are ready to assume independence, leadership, and responsibility, and have a strong need for creative exploration and self-expression. It is important that students this age engage in authentic, purposeful work that engages their minds and bodies. Hollis Montessori’s Middle School Program is designed for students in the adolescent plane.