In what way does using the sensorial materials help the child’s whole development? Give examples
“All knowledge comes through the senses” – Aristotle
The word sensorial is derived from the words sense or senses. The conventional five senses, attributed to Aristotle, are classified as sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste. However, humans have at least nine different senses including interoceptive senses such as thermoception (heat, cold), nociception (pain), equilibrioception (balance, gravity), proprioception & kinesthesia (joint motion and acceleration) and sense of time.
Maria Montessori believed that sensorial experiences started in the womb and continued after birth and that through his senses the child is able to learn and work in his environment. Through being a ‘sensorial explorer’ the child begins to understand his environment. The discrimination of size, colour, sound, smell and taste are achieved by using sensorial material. Sensorial material provides the links to future work in the areas of Mathematics, Language, Geography, Botany, Zooloogy etc. Concrete and tangible experiences are provided by the materials to help classify the impressions received from the senses. Children learn to develop sensory impressions of the world around them. The materials are not intended to give new impressions, but to allow for the ordering, classification, refinement, exploration and realisation of the sense impressions that the child has perceived. The sensorial material allows a child to make use of all his various senses and therefore assists in the holistic development of the child. Sensorial materials are seen as tools for development. Maria Montessori believed that there is noting in the intellect that was not first experienced via the senses. Children are able to build cognitive effectiveness and efficiency and learn to order and classify impressions. This is done by touching, seeing, smelling, tasting, listening, and exploring the physical properties of their environment through the use of specially-designed materials. The aim of the sensorial material is an inner one – the child trains himself in the art of observation and through this he is able to make comparisons between objects, reason and make decisions. Sensorial materials allow for individual work and repetitions. The child can then work independently without fear of making mistakes. The sensorial exercises include a control of error section which helps the child become comfortable with the fact that error is an essential part of the learning process.
What is the purpose of sensorial materials?
- Learn classification and organisation of the environment - this gives clarity to the mind and consciousness - Strengthen the powers of discrimination – this brings about the refinement of the senses. The material allows for the isolation of specific senses and focuses on one sense at a time. This enables the child to discriminate, identify differences and appreciate the distinctions - Establish greater mental order – the development of neurological pathways as a child grows is enhanced by the ways things are presented. Learning under the pretext of context enables the child to understand more and remember more.
A ‘power or a potential given to the child by nature’ which is meant to aid their development; this is how Maria Montessori refers to the senses. A child’s senses are active at all times, and in order to support the development of the senses we must be cognisant of this. Our greatest responsibility should be to help the child develop that potential given to him by nature, and we need to do this in a logical manner. If the importance of sensorial activities and exercises is understood properly then the child will be able to develop outside the school environment as well.
In order for a child to understand his environment, sensorial experiences must be provided. If a child is deprived of this during certain...