As mentioned in a previous post, Dylan started a Montessori school in September. There are a lot of different things that drew us to this school in particular and to a Montessori school in general. One factor that drew us to a Montessori school was learning more about Sensitive periods – a term coined by the Dutch geneticist Hugo de Vries and adopted by the founder of the Montessori system, Maria Montessori.
Maria Montessori belived that children experience leaps in learning from birth to age 6, during sensitive periods. These leaps can be thought of as periods of time where children easily acquire certain abilities, such as language. It is possible learn a new language, for example, later on in life, but this requires more effort.
The Association Montessori Internationale describes these sensitive periods by topic area. The sensitivities include the following:
- Sensitivity to Language – from birth to age 6, children are extremely sensitive to vocal sounds and acquire language skills rapidly.
- Sensitivity to Order – from approximately age 1 to age 3, order is extremely important to children as their brains are organizing a mental scheme of the world surrounding them. Often, what is thought of as an outburst or tantrum is simply a child reacting to apparent disorder that they observe.
- Sensitivity to Movement – from the age of 2 to 4, a child posseses a sensitivity to movement. In order to learn, they must move about their environment. This is why it seems like a toddler or preschooler can’t sit still – it often appears as if they are in contant motion from the moment they wake until the moment they go to sleep!
- Sensitivity to Small Objects – children between the ages of 1 and 3 have a strong interest in small objects. For example – a child might notice and be fascinated by an ant crawling on the ground where an adult would not even notice it.
- Sensitivity to Sensory Impressions – children learn about the world around them by exploring their environment with their senses – they touch, smell, taste, feel and hear things as they explore the world.
We were impressed how Dylan’s school respects the sensitivities that toddlers and preschools experience and sets up the classroom and the daily routine in a manner that allows these sensitivities to be explored.
We are learning more and more about the Montessori philosophy each day. Next week we will be going to a curriculum night at Dylan’s school and I hope to share more Montessori information with you!