Montessori sensitive periods refer to a period of time when a child’s interests are focused on developing a particular skill or knowledge area. During what Maria Montessori describes as the child’s absorbent mind, birth to age 6 years, is when the most sensitive periods occur. Let’s find out! What is a sensitive period? “ A sensitive period refers to a special sensitivity which a creature acquires in its infantile state, while it is still in a process of evolution. It is a transient disposition and limited to the acquisition of a particular trait.
Some sensitive periods are so noticeable that even someone who doesn’t practice Montessori would agree with them. For instance, the Montessori sensitive period for walking is 12-15 months. Others may refer to some of these sensitive periods as developmental stages.
Other sensitive periods take a bit more work on the adult’s part (preparing the environment and awareness). For instance, the sensitive period for the order is often looked at as a tantrum or the “terrible 2’s”. When really, your child is simply going through their sensitive period for order and if given a properly prepared environment and routine they will flourish!
When you know what your child is likely to be experiencing next, you can help them gain the most from their sensitive periods.
Here are some of the most recognizable Montessori sensitive periods for children aged 0-3 years old:
To support this sensitive period you will want to prepare your environment by allowing your child to crawl, pull up and encourage walking with or without assistance. Toys or materials that allow your child’s hands to hook, bat, touch, turn, insert and grasp small items are suggested. Repeating these activities will refine their skills such as movement and improve hand-eye coordination. From birth to 2.5 years, children are sensitive to gross and fine motor development. This begins when the infant child learns to crawl, pull up, and eventually walk without assistance. Over time, children also develop fine motor skills through repeating activities that strengthen their hand muscles and improve hand-eye coordination.
At this stage, your child is improving their coordination of fine movements such as being able to hold small items with a pincer grip and release them voluntarily. Gross motor coordination can be supported by walking, running, balancing, and jumping. Again, repeating these activities will help to improve their coordination. Young children are open to the right information at the right time. When children are given lessons, materials, and activities as they are ready for them, learning to read is a natural, continuous progression. This is one of the advantages of the Montessori Method. They are not only learning about their fascinating environment but also working on those much-needed fine motor skills and developing their concentration.
Prepare your environment for these sensitive periods that you’ll need to speak to your child in clear language, read to them, and allow them to speak their needs. No baby talk.
Children become very sensitive to and interested in letter shapes and sounds. Activities such as tracing sandpaper letters with their fingers and correlating the sound of the letter with its shape are great in supporting these sensitive periods.
These sensitive periods begin when the child learns the alphabet. Then they learn the sight words, which form the foundation for reading and writing skills.
From the basis of writing, your child can learn to read. Reading aloud to your child will help them improve their own reading skills.
Sensitive periods will be clear when the child is fixated on small objects and tiny details. This is an indicator that order and detail are coming together in the child’s mind. To properly prepare the environment you may want to get down to your child’s level and fix anything that needs to be fixed so the child won’t be distracted when doing work. When a child may see something in disorder this may affect their level of concentration.
The sensitive periods are characterized by the child’s fascination with sensorial experiences (taste, smell, sounds, weight, and touch). These experiences provide children with a system to classify objects within their environment. Provide your child with vast opportunities to explore and observe their environment using their senses.
Refinement of the Senses [2.5 to 6.5 years] Children refines their senses by exploring their environment with all their senses. A fascination with sensorial experiences results in children learning to observe and make increasingly refined sensorial discriminations.
The sensitive period children for an order is a desire for consistency and repetition. An established routine, a carefully ordered environment, and established ground rules will help to keep your child from being disrupted by the disorder. This is a need that needs to be fulfilled, having order helps a child in these sensitive periods.
Toilet learning is a natural process and should be done by following your child’s lead. Allowing children to become aware of their bodily functions allows for less distress when the child is older and more physically able to control their toilet learning abilities.
This does not mean that your child should be completely toilet trained by this age. It simply means that around this age your child will probably show an interest in the toilet and will begin to have more physical control over her own bodily functions.
For instance, toileting can be a lot easier if you begin to introduce books By reading this post, and learning about your child’s development as it relates to these sensitive periods, you can curate an environment that supports them and helps them go deeper into refining these skills and developing this knowledge.
Children experience sensitive periods for learning rhythm, pitch, melody, and more. Music develops the brain, leading to academic, social, and emotional growth.
At this age, children learn that they are part of a group and develop an intense interest in social relationships. This is when children learn to develop friendships and participate in group play. This is a good time to introduce the importance of manners and the basic principles of human interaction.
Manner and courtesy are modeled by the adults. This means the parents should be using their manners with the children and other adults that may be around.
To support the development of fine and gross motor skills, it is important to provide your child with regular visits to the park or an outdoor environment. At home, you can encourage sensitive periods for movement by providing your child with opportunities to practice tasks, such as drawing or writing, washing hands, threading, and jumping.
Which of these Montessori-sensitive periods has your child been in lately? Leave a comment below for some ideas on how to guide your child’s development through their current sensitive period.
“Montessori – All About Montessori Method of Education | Daily Montessori.” Montessori Education, www.dailymontessori.com/.
“Montessori Teacher Training and Parent Resources.” Montessori Teacher Training and Parent Resources, ageofmontessori.org/.
By. “How to Recognise and Support Sensitive Periods in Your Child’s Development.” Montessori Academy, 9 Oct. 2016, montessoriacademy.com.au/how-to-recognise-and-support-sensitive-periods-in-your-child’s-development/.
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