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Define the Term Sensitive Periods, and Explain How the Teacher's ...

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Define the Term Sensitive Periods, and Explain How the Teacher's Knowledge and Understanding of These Periods Determines His/Her Preparation and Custodianship of the Prepared Environment

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  • April 2007
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Define the term sensitive periods, and explain how the teacher's knowledge and understanding of these periods determines his/her preparation and custodianship of the prepared environment

"A sensitive period refers to a special sensibility which a creature acquires in its infantile state" (Montessori, 1966, p.38). Such sensitive periods were first discovered in animals by the Dutch scientist Hugo de Vries, but according to Montessori, are also found in children and are very important to consider in teaching. Each sensitive period is a "transient disposition and is limited to the acquisition of a particular trait" (Montessori, 1966, p.38). Once such a trait or characteristic has been achieved, the sensibility disappears due to the fact that the development of the brain has progressed past the point at which specific information is absorbed. According to Lillard (1972), these transient periods only occur in childhood up to approximately the age of 6. Sensitive periods are spans of time in a child's life when they are absorbed with one particular characteristic of their environment (Lillard,1972). According to Montessori, during a sensitive period it is very easy for the child to acquire certain abilities, such as language, discrimination of sensory stimuli and mental modelling of the environment (Montessori, 1966). Montessori observed 6 sensitive periods in a child's life. These sensitive periods are not consecutive; some overlap and some are continuous. Order is the first sensitive period to appear and may be noticed even in the first few months of life (Montessori, 1966, p.49). During this sensitive period, there is a need for a precise and determined environment (Lillard, 1972) and a positive manifestation of it may be seen in the joy which children show at seeing things in their proper places (Montessori, 1966). The presence of this sensitive period however, is even more evident when the order is somehow interfered with. For example,...

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