In the book Montessori Play and Learn by Lesley Britton, she says;
- All children have ‘absorbent’ minds
- All children pass through ‘sensitive’ periods
- All children want to learn
- All children learn through play/work
- All children pass through several stages of development
- All children want to be independent
Together they form the core belief upon which the Montessori Method is based.
Sensitive Periods (birth to six years)
According to Tim Seldin in his book How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way, Montessori recognised that children go through stages of intellectual interest and curiosity- which she called ‘sensitive periods’ in which they become intrigued and absorbed by aspects of their environment. See the guide from his book below.
There is a lot of information available the internet which goes into more depth on each of the sensitive periods and it can be a bit overwhelming at first. I found this guide really helpful when I was just starting to learn about The Montessori Method/Philosophy. Most other Montessori books I own only mention a few of the above sensitive periods, but I like how this guide mentions Music, Spatial Relationships, Small objects and Grace and Courtesy.
- Movement (birth to one year), movements become more coordinated and controlled. Tips: Freedom of movement as much as possible from birth onwards, limiting or eliminating time in cots, play pens, prams etc which restrict movement if safe to do so.
- Language (birth to six years), progression from babble to words, phrases then sentences. Tips: Talk to your child as much as possible using real words as opposed to ‘baby talk’ and read to your child as much as you can.
- Small objects (one to four years), eye-hand coordination becomes increasingly refined and accurate. Wooden dolls, play animals, cars, trucks, small world play are popular at this age.
- Order (two to four years), love of routines, desire for consistency and repetition. Tips: I keep these things in mind for the at home environment (Order, Simplicity, Beauty. (ordered with a place for everything and everything in its play, simplicity (uncluttered), and beautiful (surround your home with things that you love and make your family happy).
- Music (two to six years), interest in the development of pitch, rhythm and melody. Tips: Sing together often and listen to beautiful classical musical.
- Toileting (18 months to three years), better developed control over bladder and bowels. Tips: Follow your child, you will know when they are ready for the toilet learning process.
- Grace and Courtesy (two to six years), imitate polite and considerate behaviour which becomes internalised into their personality. Tips: Model good behaviour at home.
- Senses (two to six years), fascination with sensorial experiences of taste, touch, sound and smell.
- Writing (three to four years), attempts to reproduce letters and numbers.
- Reading (three to five years), interest in symbols and sounds they represent.
- Spatial relationships (four to six years), increasing able to work out complex puzzles as an understanding of spatial relationships develops.
- Mathematics (four to six years), sensitivity for numbers and quantities.
The above guide is from the book Montessori Read and Write book.
Learning Through play. Play can be interpreted in many different ways. According to Lesley Britton (Montessori Play and Learn), To Montessori the words were synonymous: play is you child’s work, simply because it is the means by which he learns.