Understanding of the first and third plane of development

Maria Montessori described four planes of the child’s development (0-6, 6-12, 12-18, 18-24).

Thus, she divided the child’s life into four different planes and the question is:

How can the understanding of the first plane of development help us understand the third plane of development, or what are the similar features of a newborn and adolescent?

Maria Montessori wrote that socially speaking, the young adolescent is like a newborn.

The young adolescent is like a social new-born baby that again begins to get to know his body and is searching for what is going on around him, or especially inside of him, and why. He is trying to make sense of the relationships around him. Just as the newborn is in the center of action, so we should understand that the adolescent is experiencing a new phase of his life development, that this teenager of ours is beginning to think in a different way, which we adults might not always understand. We should try to listen to him again – just as we try to perceive all the first body movements of the newborn. We should accept his character and moods as they are, and see his potential. An adolescent is like a clean sheet of paper onto which new letters are being written again. Every child has a potential; every adolescent has a tremendous potential in which we can support her.

Our task is to prepare for them a friendly, prepared environment where they can gain new experience that makes sense in a normal practical life, where they can take responsibility for their own lives and where they have freedom and independence. Education is a natural, nature-driven and spontaneous process – spontaneous not because we listen to words, but because we experiment with the environment. Every experience is meaningful. Adolescents need to know that they have freedom of movement, freedom to choose what interests them, and freedom to develop in what they enjoy. If we want to have independent adolescents, we have to make use of their potential. They can always use the environment around them. The beauty around them is what gives them new possibilities and experiences. They’ll find respect for the environment and other people, but also for the things around them. They need to know that what they are doing is meaningful.

Young adolescents are as vulnerable as newborn babies, and our task is to build a community and environment in which they’ll feel safe and that will help them in their personal development while also supporting their capabilities and characters. If we support and observe her, we’ll actually find out that the newborn, the child or the young adolescent always does more for us than we do for her.


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