Third Plane of Development

(Grades 7 to 12)


During the Third Plane of Development (ages 12–18), students move from focusing on the “What?” questions of early childhood and the “Why?” questions of their elementary years to the “How?” questions of adolescence and early adulthood: How do I apply what I’ve learned so far? How do I fit in? How do I contribute and achieve my best? How do I channel my passions into my higher purpose? How will I make my mark? They’re ready to actively explore and discover their unique place in society and to test their unfolding sense of self in the external world: Who am I as a thinker, a maker, a colleague? Who am I as a friend, a collaborator, a contributor, a leader? Who am I as a fully engaged member of society?

To take on this work, your student needs:

  • more space — both physical and social — apart from parents to safely exert her expanding independence (Dr. Montessori especially emphasizes the importance of outdoor spaces where students can explore while feeling connected to and grounded in nature);
  • more opportunities to discover and express herself through authentic and creative work, healthy social interactions, and even financial self-sufficiency;
  • more external structures and assessments to support self-management and -organization (e.g., letter grades, a bell schedule, a subject-specific rotation of courses in Middle School, followed by regional competitions, national exams, workplace evaluations in Upper School);
  • more occasion to test and evaluate herself and take on more responsibility in the world (i.e., real-world internships, independent community service projects, other leadership roles beyond home and school).

* While Maria Montessori never officially designed a post-elementary educational curriculum, MSR’s Middle and Upper Schools build upon the thinking she shared about adolescents’ particular developmental needs, and embody the time-proven Montessori philosophy and values.