Blog #5 Sensitive periods


What are the sensitive or sensitive periods of the Montessori method?

The sensitive periods are sensitive points that attract children to become intensely involved in what interests them; therefore they need to work at their own pace, without schedules, through activity, through which their intelligence is built, and they need continuous repetition
Maria Montessori


The periods are given both individually in some cases and superimposed in others and are basically these:

• Sharpening of the senses

• Movement and development of fine motor skills

• Language

• Order and organization

• Social behavior

• Musical sensitivity

• Mathematical discovery

• Sphincter control

• Relationship with space

We will go deeper into each of them, since it is important to know how to recognize them in order to enhance them and not repress them, taking into account that these sensitive periods are limited in time and irreproducible.

Sharpening of the senses

In the period from the first year of life to 5, children are in an ideal stage to develop and sharpen their senses. Among what would be the “material” to help children at this time, and which in many homes occurs naturally, would be the boxes with a variety of materials (also known as the “treasure basket”).

These include all kinds of material beyond the classic industrial plastic rattle: pine cones, homemade rattles made with recycled empty cans and legumes, fabrics of all kinds, ropes, brushes.

All kinds of objects susceptible to being inspected at a tactile and auditory level, and in some cases olfactory (and in the first years also with taste).

When they are older, that is, from 3 years old, you can also make boxes or cylinders with different scents. Or boxes with objects to be recognized with closed eyes by touch and hearing.

Movement (0-3 years)

During the first three years of life, children develop a lot of mobility, both musculature and balance and coordination.

Fine motor skills according to Maria Montessori are developed during this vital moment so important.

The language

During the first 6 years of life, children develop language in an impressive way. As Maria Montessori well recognized, during these years (this sensitive period) children are at their most apt to develop language. There are different ways of empowering it, whether on a concrete or abstract level, of imagination and creativity.

This stage is unrepeatable, and although it continues to develop throughout life, this is where we plant the seed. There is a lot of Montessori material for literacy and language in general, from what would be the word boxes (where objects that begin with a letter are put) to more complex shapes such as syllable letters or letters of sandpaper or wood .

It is not about forcing boys and girls to learn to read now, far from it. It is about helping them at the time in their life when they are most prepared to absorb everything around them and transform it into words.

Order and organization

Human beings have an innate tendency to order and organization. This does not mean that all people have an equal concept of order. There are researchers who have their work area full of papers and that to any of us it would seem like chaos. But they or they know exactly how everything is organized.

In the case of children, when sharing spaces of sociability, order is also linked to the concept of adults with the theme. Ideally, children should have things clearly organized in their play areas.

This is so that little by little they get used to the fact that everything has a place and that after using them they have to be left where they were.

To help in this period that goes approximately from the first year and a half to 4, it is important not to crowd the little ones with objects. Something difficult today since grandparents and uncles understand how to give affection many times with giving objects.

If you have a play space at home, or if it is the same room, it is recommended to allocate or create a place for this purpose. Whether they are shelves and other types of containers, with the sole purpose of organizing and storing the game and learning material.

Social behavior

From the age of 2, children begin to develop a greater interest in relationships, either with other children or with adults. It is from this age, and in the following 4 years, that according to Maria Montessori sociability develops.

Musical sensitivity

Although it has been shown that babies show an interest in music, sound, noise and rhythm from a very early stage, it is from the age of 2 that they begin to develop a more acute musical sensitivity. It is a perfect stage to start introducing concepts such as notation (although not graphically), as well as instrument recognition games.

Mathematical discovery

Mathematics is very present. When we eat or when they ask us our age, when we learn the letters and how many of them our name bears. But according to Montessori, the ideal period to go deeper is between 4 and 6 years old, when the ability to understand these types of abstractions begins to be more suitable.

Sphincter control

Babies begin to react in different ways to sphincter control between the ages of 1½ and 3½. Some tear off their diapers, others do not want to remove it but are aware that they are peeing or pooping. It is during these two years that children find the ideal time to stop using diapers and control where to relieve themselves.

Relationship with space

From the age of 3, babies begin to develop capacities for interaction and response to increasingly important spaces. It is important to know how to interpret this relationship and enhance its positive side.

See you soon in a new blog and never forget, that we learn by playing.

xoxo AZ.