Sensitive Periods for Learning

Rachel Ong

How to Raise an Amazing Child with Montessori Way:

Sensitive Periods for Learning (Birth to 6 Years)

(ISBN: 978-1-4654-6230-5)

Through her years of study and observation, Maria Montessori discovered what she called “sensitive periods.” Sensitive periods are developmental windows of opportunity during which the child can learn specific concepts more easily and naturally than at any other time in their lives. A child in the midst of a sensitive period will show an especially strong interest or inclination toward certain activities or lessons.

 Children pass through “sensitive periods” in which they are primed to learn, and some of these opportunities don't come twice. These sensitive stages are sometimes called “Periods of Power”. Montessori believed that they should be encouraged, not just for cognitive development, but also for a child’s happiness.

During the sensitive period, children can learn new things, master new skills, or develop aspects of their brain’s abilities almost unconsciously. However, sensitive periods are transitory states. Once children have mastered the skill or concept in which they were absorbed, the sensitive period seems to disappear, so if children are not exposed to the right experience and stimulate at the right time, the opportunity to learn will pass.

The skills can still be learned, but it may require years of hard work and drill. This is why, for example, learning one more languages is relatively easy for children at age two and three when they are in a sensitive period for language but much more difficult for most of us as adults.








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