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.