Sensitive Periods (Montessori)

From Montepedia

In Montessori education, Sensitive Periods refer to specific times during early child development when the child shows strong propensity to specific kinds of learning. These are transient periods of intense sensitivity to particular stimuli in their environment.[1] During a sensitive period, a child may exhibit spontaneous concentration when engaged in an activity that aligns with their current sensitivity.

For instance, children in a sensitive period for order will be attracted to activities that involve ordering. They may repetitively engage in such activities, demonstrating deep concentration and requiring no external reward or encouragement. Thus, children are naturally drawn to aspects of their environment that meet their particular developmental needs.

Montessori Quotes

  • "It is true that some children...learn to read without having been taught, and that comes about because these children are in a social environment where many people know how to read, and because they come into contact with written language."[2]
  • "The only outwardly recognizable sign of the sensitive periods is the child's behavior: his intense interest for certain objects, a certain repetition of exercises, a certain type of concentration." [3]

Research and Critiques

  • Pros: The concept of sensitive periods underscores the importance of aligning educational activities with the child's natural developmental stages, thereby making learning more effective and enjoyable. This view is consistent with contemporary developmental psychology.[4]
  • Cons: Critics argue that the concept of sensitive periods may overemphasize the importance of certain developmental stages and undervalue learning that can occur outside of these periods.[5]

Comparisons to Other Methods

While all educational methods recognize developmental stages, the Montessori approach uniquely emphasizes the idea of sensitive periods, during which the child's learning is particularly receptive to certain types of information or activities.[6]

See Also

Glossary of Montessori Terms

The Glossary of Montessori Terms is a collection of specific terms and vocabulary that are related to the Montessori method of education, primarily focusing on the theory and practice for children aged 3 to 6. The jargon used by Montessori educators offers a unique insight into child development as discussed by Maria Montessori. The 'Montepedia Glossary of Montessori Terms' originated from a glossary that was compiled by the late Annette Haines from the Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis, at the request of Molly O'Shaughnessy from the Montessori Centre of Minnesota. The reason behind the creation of this glossary was to supplement O'Shaughnessy's lecture at the Joint Annual Refresher Course that took place in Tampa, Florida, in February 2001.[7] The glossary has since been expanded and updated with additional 'Montessori Terms'.

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  1. Montessori, M. (1949). The Absorbent Mind. Clio Press.
  2. Montessori, M. (1949). The Absorbent Mind. Clio Press.
  3. Montessori, M. (1958). The Child in the Family. Avon Books.
  4. Lillard, A. (2017). Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. Oxford University Press.
  5. Egan, K. (2002). Getting it wrong from the beginning: Our progressivist inheritance from Herbert Spencer, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget. Yale University Press.
  6. Mooney, C. (2013). Theories of Childhood, Second Edition: An Introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget & Vygotsky. Redleaf Press.
  7. Haines, A. (2001). Glossary of Montessori Terms. Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis.