Sensitive periods

Dr. Montessori believed in a necessary relationship between children and their environment. Children must find a properly prepared environment if they are fully develop their unique human potentials. In addition to determine children’s eventual height and other physical characteristics, there is another cognitive plan which determines the unique emotional and intellectual characteristics of each child. These skills develop through what Montessori referred to as “Sensitive Periods”. It derives from the unconscious and leads children to conscious and creative activities. These intense and prolonged activities which do not lead to fatigue or boredom are manifested by persistent energy and interest.

Dr. Montessori identified eleven different sensitive periods occurring from birth through age six. Each refers to a predisposition compelling children to acquire specific characteristics as described below.

Movement: Random movements become coordinated and précised.

Language: Use of words to communicate is a progression from babble to words to phrase to sentences with a continuously expanding vocabulary and comprehension.

Small objects: A fixation on small objects and tiny details.

Order: Characterized by a desire for consistency and repetition and a passionate love for established routine. Children can become deeply disturbed by disorder.

Music: Spontaneous interest in and the development of pitch, rhythm and melody.

Graces and Courtesy: Imitation of polite and considerate behaviour leading to an internalization of these skills into the personality.

Sensory exploration: Refinement of senses (sound, touch, smell, taste, vision).

Writing: Fascination with the attempt to reproduce letters and numbers with chalk, pencil, pen and paper and chalkboard.

Reading: Spontaneous interest in symbolic representations of sounds of each letter and in the formation of words.

Spatial Relationship: Forming cognitive impressions about relationship in space. They love to work with puzzles.

Mathematics: Formation of concepts of quantity and operations from the uses of concrete material aids.

So to summarize, it can be said that, a sensitive period is a period of special sensibility and psychological attitude, a period of time during which children center their attention on specific aspects of the environment, to the exclusion of all else. Adults do not have any control over it other than to prepare an encouraging environment that stimuli it. Sensitive period is a transitory state that once realized disappears. Sensitive periods are never regained once over.

The Montessori Philosophy

The Montessori philosophy is a set of principles about the human being from which Dr. Maria Montessori drew an educational pedagogy. As a physician, Dr. Montessori came to be involved with young children. Through scientific observation, she came to see how children interact with their environment and the human beings within it. She had great interest in observing how they learn as they used the materials she created.

Dr. Montessori discovered that the child’s own psyche has specific needs and dispositions which determined the pace and direction of his/her inner development.

It is the child who creates his/her unique personality through exploration with materials and activities. This occurs with the interaction of his/her peers. It is only in an individuals’ community that one can realize their fullest potential.

Education has an indispensable role in the development of individuals from birth into adulthood. It should be an aid, a support, and an experience, an adventure and guidance for the child in the task of self-development.

This development occurs in stages, which correspond, to what is called infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. These stages show specific needs and psychological characteristics, which distinctly separate an infant from a child, a child from an adolescent and an adolescent from an adult.

The Montessori philosophy of education not only deals with the appropriate and opportune use of developmental stages in children, an updated and rich curriculum, and dynamic and brilliant interactive and autodidactic materials; but, also encompasses an approach to and a preparation for life itself. Seeking to bring all components into balance.

The stages of development are pertinent in the Montessori philosophy, as they represent the difference between the child and the adult. This is the foundation of the Montessori pedagogy.

Children are continually changing and developing. Adults have already reached the norm of society’s demands. Education must compliment the changes and development with each child as they enter each new stage of development.

Educators must be aware of and prepare to deal with new sensitive periods and the specific characteristics, as they become evident. Montessori, therefore, organizes for the child the means that are necessary for his/her own internal development in accordance with the child’s disposition and the characteristics of his/her specific age. Through this means, the child’s interest and concentration is obtained, so that education does not become an external imposition, but a response to the internal needs and demands of the child.

Dr. Montessori’s philosophy also concerns itself with a development of wholeness through the combined involvement of hand and mind, body and spirit. Manipulative play a large role in the development of the intellect and in Montessori education it is unacceptable to develop one at the expense of the other.

The philosophy of Montessori is to release a spirit in the child that is unique to humankind, which, through love and education, should bring this generation to a peaceful, interdependent world.

Please visit our future blogs regarding the Montessori Education, The child (his/her absorbent mind and sensitive periods), the environment and the teacher.