Maria Montessori believed that every human being went through a quantum leap in learning during the preschool years. She felt this was especially true from birth to the first few years of life. The years when a child learns language is surely a profound and mysterious process of learning. The urges that a baby has to sit up, crawl and walk are also stages of development that are innate. Montessori called this process of learning and behavior norms as the sensitive periods. During a sensitive period it is very easy to teach children certain concepts that later on will be somewhat more difficult for an older child to learn. Dr. Montessori believed that a child was the teacher in that we should observe our children to know what stage of learning or sensitive period they are in.
Sensitive Periods for learning
Birth to 3 years:
The absorbent mind-the mind soaks up information like a sponge Sensory learning and experiences: The child uses all five senses-touch, taste, feel, sight, and hearing-to understand and absorb information about his or her environment.
1 ½ to 3 years:
Language explosion-a child builds his or her future foundation for language at this period.
1 ½ to 4 years:
Development and coordination of fine and large muscle skills, advanced developing grasp and release skill spawns an interest in any small object (usually dangerous ones on the floor).
2 to 4 years:
Very mobile with greater coordination and refinement of movement, increased interest in language and communication (they love to tell stories- true or not!), aware of spatial relationships, matching, sequence and order of objects
2 ½ to 6 years:
Works well incorporating all five senses for learning and adapting to environment.
3 to 6 years:
Interest and admiration of the adult world, they want to copy and mimic adults-such as parents and teachers. One of the few times most children are very open to their parents and other adults.
4 to 5 years:
In this period, using one’s hands and fingers, in cutting, writing and doing art; their tactile senses are very developed and acute.
4 ½ to 6 years:
Periods marked by Reading and math readiness, and eventually, reading and math skills.