Four planes of development Development can be defined as an act of developing from birth till maturity. Development is a series of re-births. Dr. Maria Montessori said, child is always in a continued stage development. Child is continuously growing whereas adult is already matured. Development occurs in stages, almost like steps. She further noted that within each stage of development, there is a creative period of intense acquisition of skills or knowledge and then a calmer period of consolidation, i. e. absorbing and making that knowledge one’s own.
When a child is born, he goes into four sages of life. His life takes many changes. As a child goes to each stage, his needs change. After all these changes, he reaches to maturity of social, mental and physical change and development. Each plane is approximately of six years and has its own special characteristics as follows: Infancy This stage starts from birth and last till six years. This is the period of transformation and the characteristic of this period is known as the “Absorbent Mind” in which the child’s mind is like a sponge, absorbing all that is in the environment.
The first plane of development is further divided into sub-phases: first sub-plane is from birth to three years and the second sub-plane is from three to six years. Characteristics: In the first sub-plane, physically, the child is uncapable of looking after himself. He’s physically vulnerable i. e prone to diseases and illnesses as his immune system is still developing. At this age, vaccines are given to the child so that he can fight with his illness. He gets new teeth, tries to sit and crawls. His hair and skin are soft. The child is unable to co-ordinate with the movements. He does not have balance and equilibrium.
Right from the birth, his sensory nerves are active. He can smell, taste and see. The child looks at the mother’s face when she is talking to him. He observes the sound. The first sub-plane is an important period of development which is known as the “Unconscious Absorbent Mind”. This is the stage of creative development, where he develops his skills, will and motor movements. The child has a type of mind that an adult cannot approach. The child can hardly make any movements after the birth. In the second sub-plane, the child acquires motor co-ordination through imitation, work and play.
He learns to speak and forms the language center. He learns language just by living in the environment. E. g. in the early years of childhood, the child can quickly and spontaneously absorb the new language. The period from three to six years is a period of consolidation of the first sub-plane which is known as “The Conscious Absorbent Mind”. The child creates the person he will become once given an appropriate and specially prepared environment to work. Dr. Maria Montessori said that during the Absorbent Mind, the Sensitive Periods are the strongest and facilitates the child’s learning process.
Sensitive Periods are called the “Windows Of Opportunity”. Here, the child does not distinguish between good or bad. There is formation of ego and creation of mental faculties: memory, order, will, reason, intellectual thought and mental structure. He is a concrete thinker. He wants to know “What”. There is sensorial exploration of the world. In this process, the child learns and becomes the part of the society. He adapts to their culture, food, traditions and so on. The child wants to be free to work independently within structured environment doing real activities with an intelligent purpose.
By this age, the child becomes factual explorer. Needs of the Infant: The child needs love, warmth and protection. He also needs order and a sense of security, as much independence as he can handle at any given time. He requires freedom in service of order. An environment full of rich and diverse stimuli, purposeful activities and experiences must be provided to the child. He needs to learn how to relate to others, to build self-esteem and self confidence and to work by himself. It is like he’s saying “I want to do it myself”. Responsibility of the Adult:
It is very important for us, adults, to understand his needs. As he realizes his unconscious and conscious mind, he starts developing his movements and observe the actions and absorbs them. E. g. where do we eat our dinner? How do we sit or speak? Proper provisions have to be made at school and home so that he feels secured and loved. If we develop love and security from now, this helps him in his later stages. Order is a very important factor in his life. His first stage of independence is when he goes out of the womb. We should provide him independence at home, school and social surroundings.
We should provide the environment where we need to stimulate child’s movements, repetition and intelligence. We should provide him with some purposeful activities. Our responsibility is towards child’s development. Child must be given opportunities to explore things around him. We should not interfere in his work and let him become independent in this age. Childhood It is a period of growth unaccompanied by other change. The child is calm, happy, stable and have more energy. Mentally, he is in a state of health, strength and assured stability. At this age, the child is most conspicuous characteristics.
As the child mastered most of the basic human skills, he longer has the Absorbent mind but learn through reasoning using his imagination to explore further. It is also a period of self discovery and a period for developing characters, morals and ethics. Characteristics: There are a lot of physical changes in the child. His teeth changes from the milk teeth to the permanent. His skin and hair becomes thicker, eye color solidifies and his immune system is stronger. His body becomes slim as he has to walk, run and explore more things around him. He cannot sit at one place and cannot stop talking.
As he is always running here and there, his body becomes much stronger. This is the period of greatest acquisition of knowledge. There are psychological changes in the child at this stage. He becomes sensitive towards acquisition of cultural environment as his intelligence and his mind is much stronger to abstract things. The transition is from concrete to abstract. He is interested in learning about the universe. He has the capacity for abstraction and develops imagination. Child’s mind is constructive in exact plan. He wants to know ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of everything.
He is now concerned with good and bad and has a great sense of moral justice. He has herd instinct. He seeks group activities and is drawn to the same sex group. He is more aware of himself, calm and even tempered. His need for order disappears. He does not like to wash or change clothes as in the first plane of development. He is curious to know everything and his curiosity is never satisfied. Needs of the child: He needs more independence from school and family. He wants to do group activities and wants to know good or evil for everything. He wants to explore wider with social contacts.
The child likes the environment and therefore, he needs to be in contact with nature and outdoors. He wants to find his own materials which can be manipulated on his own and above all, he requires love, respect and security. Responsibility of the Adult: The child’s conscious mind is a flaming ball of imagination. He is very curious to know ‘What’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of everything. So, we need to tell him stories because his imagination is not only till space but also in time like history, discoveries made in the environment. The child wants to know about the whole world and his/her place within it which is referred as the ‘cosmic plan’.
We should give him freedom and independence. E. g. if we take him to the garden, let him explore new rides without interrupting in his play time. We should respect his independence. So, adults should collaborate with his child in the process of reasoning. We should not command him to do things. Adolescence This is the period of transformation, both physically and psychologically. Like the first plane, it is also sub divided into sub-phases: first sub-phase is from twelve to fifteen years and the second from fifteen to eighteen years. In the first sub-phase, the child is like a new born baby.
His character is seldom, stable and there are signs if indiscipline and rebellion. It is a period of greater change than the first plane of development. At this stage, child is developing culture and knowledge, things around him in environment. This is the period of intense absorption and makes his own identity. And, in the second sub-phase, mentally, he has developed logical thinking and do not like to be told or pressure into learning. All activities should be connected to real skills helping and satisfying his needs. This is the stage of consolidation personality which is solidifying and refines.
Characteristics: This is the stage of drastic physical, psychological and social changes. Physically, there are hormonal and reproduction changes. For girls, breast bust develops and starts menstrual cycle. For boys, there is development of sex organs, increased height, muscles, etc. There is sexual maturity and attracted towards the opposite sex. He rapidly grows but the health weakens. His lungs develop slower than all else, so often lacks oxygen and energy. Psychologically, he has lower intellectual capacity and has fragile and volatile emotions. He is very sensitive to criticism.
He suffers from lack of confidence and questions and doubts himself and others. And socially, he gathers in groups by interest and rebels against authority. He is attracted to the opposite sex and searches for heroes or role models. He has the concern for humanity and the world and wishes to contribute to the same. Needs of the Adolescent: He needs economic and emotional independence. He wants to strengthen his self confidence and investigate sexuality. He wants understand his place in the society and history. There is a great need for love, respect and security. He has a strong need towards community.
He wants to live on his own. He needs to treated with dignity and respect. He needs an environment to speak formally and informally. Responsibility of the Adult: As the adolescent needs the opportunity to speak normally any context, we need to be sensitive to his needs. We can provide him the best environment which suits his needs. We should help him in his physical appearance. Parents should be constantly available for his ideas and independently. They have to set some kind of boundaries for them which will help him understand his limits. During this period, a lot of struggle may occur between the adolescent and the parents. Dr.
Maria Montessori recommended that the adolescent must be given the opportunity to spend some time away from his family in which he will become independent. He learns to manage things on his own. He should work and live in a hostel. If the needs of the child are satisfied, we say the child is normalized. He will enter the stage of maturity. Maturity This is the period of transition to adulthood. This is a period for the individuals to question and plan a career for themselves. They have completed their physical changes. There are deep internal processes which are not seen from the outside. There is moral and social consciousness.
They feel responsible to the world. They choose a career for themselves. They form long-standing relationships and seek education and cultural understanding. If they have been given the right exposure to the many aspects of practical skills, research and learning, they will be more confident in choosing the profession that satisfies their needs and ability. They are sure of what they want and further develop it. The spiritual emergence to adulthood is to find one’s own place and function in the world. His development of personality and social pattern has definite characteristics. Needs of the Mature:
The individual wants to be financially independent. It’s like he’s saying, ’I can get it myself’. He has less visible inner needs. He wants to choose his actions and accept the consequences. He wants to overcome possessiveness, materialism and has a desire for power to understand himself. He knows his potentialities and limitations. He needs to relate with something higher than himself like human values, creativity, spirituality, etc. The role of the adult and the environment also changes. They look at them as an independent child who has grown to adult and can now take his own decisions and is completely self-independent. As per Dr.
Maria Montessori: The individual matures as an adult in this stage. He’s ready for university level of education. The individual commences his university education at the age of eighteen and remains there for four years. During this phase, he interacts with many people from different backgrounds, culture, religion and in many aspects. His culture and civilizations are transmitted to the entire world. Conclusion The natural development of children proceeds through several distinct planes of development, each one having its own unique conditions and sensitive periods for acquiring basic faculties in the developmental process.
Dr. Maria Montessori defined the four stages of development and labeled them as the four planes of development, noting that within these stages, the development is intense at the beginning, consolidates and the tapers to the next. The first and third planes are periods of intense creation, while the second and forth planes are the calm periods of consolidation. The key to all planes of development is the individual’s needs for independence. This is expressed differently throughout the planes. Thus, each stage differs from the other. Each formative plane lays the foundation for the next successive plane.