Montessori pedagogical methods are based on the potential for learning and absorption of skills in young children, particularly at times known as sensitive periods. For more information about what a sensitive period is and when they take place in a child’s development, read on.
What Is a Sensitive Period?
According to Montessori founder Maria Montessori, a sensitive period is a time in a child’s development before the age of 6 when he is especially driven to learn about a certain aspect of the world. During a sensitive period, learning a skill is effortless and natural, but learning it after the sensitive period will be much more difficult.
Examples of Sensitive Periods
Children master methods of interacting with the world in certain steps. According to Montessori education, sensitive periods of learning can be organized as follows:
- Language. Because language is such an important skill for interacting with the world, this sensitive period lasts longer than any other: from birth to age six. During this time, children become aware of and attuned to the sounds of human language, stimulating language-centered areas of the brain.
- Order. Between ages one and three, children learn to organize and impose order on the world around them. They work to create a system for the ways things “should be,” and they want to establish and follow patterns.
- Sensory refinement. Until age four, children are constantly taking in new information about the world around them and learning to discriminate between relevant and irrelevant stimuli.
- Motor skills refinement. From eighteen months until four years of age, children refine their fine motor skills, like picking up small objects and writing or coloring, which creates muscle tone. They also master more difficult gross motor skills, like balancing.
The Montessori School creates an environment that encourages your child to make the most of his natural drive and focus during these sensitive periods, so he can be mentally and physically engaged with the world around them. For information about enrolling in one of our schools, call Starcreek at 972-727-2800, North Dallas at 972-985-8844, or West Plano at 972-618-8844.