Define the Term Sensitive Periods, and Explain How the Teacher's Knowledge and Understanding of These Periods Determines His/Her Preparation and Custodianship of the Prepared Environment

1876 Words Apr 26th, 2007 8 Pages
Define the term sensitive periods, and explain how the teacher's knowledge and understanding of these periods determines his/her preparation and custodianship of the prepared environment

"A sensitive period refers to a special sensibility which a creature acquires in its infantile state" (Montessori, 1966, p.38). Such sensitive periods were first discovered in animals by the Dutch scientist Hugo de Vries, but according to Montessori, are also found in children and are very important to consider in teaching. Each sensitive period is a "transient disposition and is limited to the acquisition of a particular trait" (Montessori, 1966, p.38). Once such a trait or characteristic has been achieved, the sensibility disappears due to
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A fifth sensitive period is a sensitivity to small objects. At this stage the child may become engrossed in extremely tiny objects, for instance tiny insects barely visible to the human eye (Lillard, 1972). It is often common for children who are now mobile to be fixated with small objects such as ants, pebbles and grass, and they will often stop to examine such small objects when out walking. The sixth and final sensitive period is a sensitivity to the social aspects of life. Now that the child has become relatively stable in their physical and emotional environment they begin to attend to the social environment. They become aware that they are part of a community (for instance their nursery or playgroup) and he or she "attempts to learn manners and serve others as well as himself" (Lillard, 1972, p.36). Such social interest is shown initially as observation, but later develops into a need for more active contact with peers. According to Montessori, it is vitally important to support and facilitate these periods during the child's first stage of development. If the child is prevented from following the innate desire of any give sensitive period, a disturbing effect could result on both psychic development and maturity. According to Lillard, 1972, p. 33, "therefore, the opportunity for development in his sensitive periods must not be left to chance". The child must be assisted through the sensitive periods. The adult

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