Updated: Jul 7, 2022
Understanding your child's sensitive periods is one of the keys to understanding their behaviors and needs within the environment. Sensitive periods deeply influence a child's behavior. Have you ever wondered why your child's attention span is so short on some tasks and long on others? The sensitive periods can act as a guide to help you prepare their environment in a way that they will find satisfying, and will feel rewarding as a parent.
What are Sensitive Periods?
Through her work Dr. Maria Montessori noticed that there are windows of time when young children are particularly motivated and urged by activities pertaining to specific sensitivities. During these windows, or periods they are more responsive to absorbing skills and exhibiting a great deal of concentration. When each sensitive period passes, this intense desire to develop is gone requiring a more conscious effort to learn.
“When a particular sensitiveness is aroused in a child, it is like a light that shines on some objects but not others, making of them his whole world”
There are eleven specific sensitive periods that occur within a child from birth through 6 years. Below are the approximate ages that each sensitivity occurs.
When a young child is in a period of sensitivity they are not only naturally drawn toward activities within the environment that fulfill that sensitivity but they can deeply concentrate without external reward or encournagement.
Observing and supporting children in their sensitive periods is a critical component in Montessori education. Our teachers are trained to encourage behavior that satisfies the child’s desire to learn and grow through mindfulness of their sensitive periods in a carefully prepared environment.
When the classroom and teacher are child-centered accounting for the sensitive periods, children learn with great comprehension. It is important that at home and school we allow children to make choices, move freely through their environment, and explore objects that demonstrate relationships to allow for academic achievement rooted in a deep understanding of the world around them. Preparing a child's environment with their sensitive periods in mind allows a child to build a love for learning.