Sensitive Periods in Montessori Education

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According to the Montessori educational approach, there are sensitive periods at different times of the child’s development, and most of them are observed in the first stage. There are six sensitive periods observed in the first developmental stage. These:

1-Sensitive Movement Period (birth-4 years):
The sensitive period for movement is between 0-4 years and is divided into two different stages; Acquisition of gross and fine motor between 0-2.5 years old and specialization and coordination of movement between 2.5-4 years old. Movement is the way children learn, and indeed, the more children move, the more they are open to learning. Children first develop gross motor movements and then show a tendency towards fine motor movements. For example, a 2-year-old child holds the soccer ball thrown at him with his hands and arms, while a 4-5-year-old child holds the soccer ball thrown at him with his hands and fingers. He gradually gains expertise and flexibility in body coordination and movements. If we want the child to move freely to support this period, it is important that we provide the necessary safe environment. In a safe environment and under our supervision, allowing the child to move freely and explore the environment will contribute to his/her development as well as gain self-confidence and autonomy.

2-Sensitive Language Period (2 months- 5.5 years):
Children’s language learning has a fascinating effect when we look at the language acquisition process of adults. In the beginning, the baby only cries to express himself, and he hears many sounds from his environment that he cannot make sense of. Over time, he begins to give meaning to these sounds and to imitate them, passing through certain stages and learning the language of the environment he lives in. As the age progresses, the child develops his vocabulary by learning new words and begins to express himself better day by day. In order to support our baby/child in this sensitive period, we should talk and chat with him/her a lot. Talking about the things we do while taking care of the baby, and chatting about what happens at school when the child gets older improves both the child’s language development and self-expression. Nursery rhymes, poems, songs are supportive for this period, and we can say that the importance of reading books has a more critical importance in this period in order to support these developments.

3-Sensitive Period for Healing the Senses (birth-5 years):
Research has shown that the five senses develop in the womb, and the senses continue to develop and heal after birth. The baby has a tendency to touch everything around him and put it in his mouth. He often resorts to these two senses to recognize and make sense of his surroundings, and at the same time his eyes, that is, his sense of sight, are at work. At the same time, infants’ reactions to sounds, for example, startle at a loud voice, or calm down or smile at a softer voice. Although it is effective for the development of the sense of hearing, it is also through this sense that it makes sense of sounds in terms of language development. The child needs sensory exploration to develop his potential. In this sense, in order to provide support, it will be effective to provide children with a safe environment and materials that they can experience with their sense organs.

Montessori speaks of language and hands as “tools of human intelligence”. This interest in sensory experience and the activities they stimulate in the child help the child develop his senses. It can be said that Montessori again emphasizes that the use of sensory organs increases permanence in learning by saying, “You can’t forget what you don’t give to the child”. In order to support the child in this sense, it will be useful to offer materials with different surfaces that they can touch from their infancy, compare them with stimuli that make different sounds, create activities where they can distinguish between hard-soft/slippery-rough, and support their senses with blindfolded smelling and tasting exercises.

4-Precision Order Period (18 months- 4 years):

During this period, the child has a passionate love for established routines and it can be seen that the child is disturbed by the disruption of this order. For example, the irritability of the child whose sleep time (regulation) is disrupted, etc. It is important for the child to have an order against the time of daily work and against the positions of the objects in the space. An established routine, established ground rules and an orderly environment prevent the child from being affected by disorder. Order helps the child direct himself, establish self-control and organize his mind. The fact that daily routines occur at certain times during infancy and that people who take care of the baby can always offer this interest at the same times and situations also contribute to the order. For example, the mother always feeds the baby, but the father always puts him to sleep. In the child’s room, it is important for this development that each material is located in a certain order and that the child can access them when he needs them.

5-Sensitive Period of Small Objects (1-3 years):
Things that adults often overlook are quite noticeable and noticeable for young children during this period. A tiny ant walking on the ground, a small ladybug on a flower leaf, a tiny piece of stone are important for the child. When he observes these, his happiness can be noticed. While adults look at the big picture, children must first pay attention to the small parts and discover these parts in order to understand the big picture. This attention to detail also contributes to the physical development of the young child. Interacting with these small objects will both make the child happy and contribute to hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. To support this period, beading work, placement with tongs and so on. can be done.

6-The Sensitive Period of Social Skills (2-6 years):
About two and a half to three years old, the child realizes that he is part of a group. Shows excessive interest in his peers. As the age progresses, the child enjoys cooperating with his peers and may exhibit behaviors such as playing together and role distribution. This period is also an ideal time to develop social customs and manners. Because Dr. Montessori realized that during this period, children began to model the behavior of adults. In this sensitive period, it is very important to follow the rules, but also to learn the rules of grace and courtesy. During this period, we can see that children need to be accepted by their families, teachers or friends. In order to support social skills and meet the need for acceptance, it is important to allow the child to express himself and to spend time with his peers.

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