Define the term sensitive periods
Sensitive periods are a period in a child’s life where they are obsessed with certain aspects of learning without any particular reason. This period is an optimum time for development and children can really develop specific abilities and skills. When children are in their sensitive periods and working with any activity, they will not show any signs of fatigue and will repeat the activity a number of times. These periods last for a certain amount of time; however the child may eventually lose interest and may move on to another activity. Development changes will not occur unless there is some kind of maturational process. It is essential to support the child’s sensitive period through the environment Montessori explains that “If no help is given to a child, if his environment is neglected, his psychic life will be in constant danger.” (Montessori, 1966 p. 45) 1 The sensitive period to order appears in the first month of the child’s life. Order in
the child’s environment helps them to organise their perception of the world. A child
may repeatedly put things or dose things in a certain order. For instance, a child may
organise their toys in colour code way or always repeatedly put their toys away in
the same order. Order makes the child feel secure and safe if disrupted he may feel
2 Sensitive period of movement occurs from the time of birth and walking occurs from
the age of one. During this period child is constantly moving for long periods of time.
He learns how to balance, negotiate space while working in the favourable
environment. The favourable environment in all creates opportunities to refine
a child’s fine and gross motor skills. E.g. A child may enjoy running for no apparent
reason for long periods of time.
3 Sensitive period for socialization occurs by around the age of three years old. This is the period when children become aware that they are part of a group. During this period the child is in the social embryonic stage and the conscious absorbent mind stage. This is the period where the child forms his character and may see things from the other’s point of view. In the favourable environment in the practical life we have grace and courtesy where the children learn how to respect each other, take turn talking, and accept social etiquette. There is vertical grouping which enables the child to learn from each other. The children have a role model and the favourable environment helps the children to learn how to take responsibility of their actions, taking care and respecting their environment. E.g.
4 Sensitive period of language starts from the time of birth and last up to six or seven years old. This period helps the child develop his language by talking and listening. In the favourable environment the children have the freedom to express and share their views. Through story time, songs, games, rhymes, poems, and finger games all aid In developing the child’s vocabulary and enhances the phonic sounds. When the
child is ready to write, Montessori has the movable alphabets and then he may
continue on to the literacy materials.
5 Sensitivity period of small object start around the age of one, during this period the
child becomes more mobile and therefore has a larger environment to explore.
Having a large environment the child is drawn to small object such as small insects,
pebbles and etc. In a favourable environment everything is child size which helps the
child’s cognitive development. The child gives attention to objects in detail and
develop independence because they are able to manipulate the small objects.
6 Sensitive period for the Refinement of the senses occurs from the age of two
to three and last up to the age of six. This sensitive period is where the child refines
his senses and what he has absorbed during his unconscious absorbent mind stage.