The sensitive periods of childhood by Maria Montessori

20, Aug 2019

The term « sensitive period » was introduced by Maria Montessori, borrowed from the Dutch researcher De Vries, who already used this term to designate certain characteristics of animal behavior. These sensitive periods are in fact very intense moments of interest directed towards the learning of a domain or characteristic, by a living being. But why are they so important for the child and for the parent?


Desire. First learning factor


For a child, no matter how young, learning is directly related to envy. A conscious or unconscious desire, but capital. The sensitive periods manifests by a desire and a deep willingness of the child to learn and acquire new skills. "Learning windows" that are important to detect in a timely manner.

Respect the child


For the parent, the difficulty lies in understanding and detecting such sensitive periods, in order to propose activities adapted to the child's desire. An exercise that may seem complex, requiring a lot of empathy, attention and understanding towards the young toddler. Forcing your child into an activity, if it is not the right time, will only result in misunderstanding, anger and frustration.

Let it go, let it go...


To respect the sensitive periods of the child means also to accept the idea that every child does not develop in the same way. Certain learnings are meant to be acquired by some earlier than for others. It's just the way it is, not a fatality ! Every child is unique, and we have to learn to let it go, be patient and understanding when it comes to educate our children. The discovery of new abilities will go through experimentation while respecting the individual and natural learning curve of the child.

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