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Montessori in a Minute: The Third Plane of Development

What Is the Third Plane of Development?

Dr. Maria Montessori believed that a child’s development occurs in four planes or stages; each with their own clear and defining characteristics. Each stage of development is marked by “sensitive periods” where the child is suited for specific types of learning. Montessori classrooms are designed to support and appeal to each sensitive period. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve covered the First Plane (age 0-6) and Second Plane (6-12). Let’s take a closer look at the Third Plane of Development from ages of 12 to 18.


This stage marks the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence and is a crucial period of social growth. In this stage, adolescents ponder the world around them, the possibilities of life ahead, and the ways they can set themselves up for success. By the end of this stage, the student is ready for independent life in the adult world.


The Importance of the Third Plane of Development

Dr. Montessori compared this wave of development to the newborn stage in several ways. By moving through the first two stages, the child has a firm grasp on the world around them and how it works. However, they are now tasked with carving out their place in it.


This time is filled with introspection. These “social newborns” spend ages 12 to 15 discovering how they can be accepted into the world and from ages 15 to 18 subtly tweaking how they can adapt to the world. Children in this stage crave independence, but often need guidance through the mistakes, missteps, and misjudgements associated with adolescence. This is why the relationship between teens and their parents and trusted adults is so crucial.


After the adolescent has honed their skills, many become interested in odd jobs and desire to make money through activities like babysitting, mowing yards, cleaning, and monetizing their hobbies. Through earning and spending money, they explore the balance between freedom and responsibility, preparing them for the upcoming adult level. This is also a prime stage to introduce opportunities for self-expression, moral development, and service.


The Montessori curriculum recognizes this unrest that is central to this stage. Teachers understand and expect that the student’s social and emotional needs must be met before new academic strides can take place.


The adolescent asks ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Where do I fit in?’ and even ‘How may I serve others?’ These give us clues about what opportunities might be required in a prepared environment that serves adolescent needs. – Dr. Maria Montessori


The Montessori in a Minute Series

Montessori schools center around five key areas of learning in the Montessori environment: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, and Culture. This Montessori In A Minute series regularly explores the unique benefits of Montessori philosophy, its fundamental materials, and areas of the classroom. For all parents at Hudson Montessori School (Jersey City, New Jersey), the school hosts several Parent Education Nights a year to learn all about the Montessori method and how the students learn curriculum components using a Montessori framework.


To learn more about Hudson Montessori School’s interdisciplinary, theme-based learning approach to education, the Montessori philosophy and methodology, or how the school fosters the love of learning for children age 2 to fifth grade, sign up for virtual school tour or for more details about our Middle School, attend a Middle School Information Session.




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