Thursday, 4 August 2016

Sensitive Periods

Maria Montessori used the term Sensitive Periods to describe periods of a child's life when he/she is sensitive to specific types of knowledge or skills. This sounds very scientific and it is, but it is also an incredible thing to witness. One of the most often missed periods is the one for written language. This is when the child is fascinated by letters and is excited to learn to write.Surprisingly this occurs at around four years old, much younger than most children learn to write in traditional schools. This period is clear to see. I witnessed it first hand this week. A young girl of nearly four started to find letters all around her. She wanted to write her name so I showed her how; then she started decorating her pictures with letters. She found letters all around the classroom and was so thrilled to be able to recognise them. It was like she had sunglasses on and she has just taken them off to see the letters in neon lights. It was amazing. This child had not shown much interest in letters previously but now her whole world had opened up. I jumped on the opportunity and we worked on writing letters; she was so enthusiastic that she just wanted to carry on and do more letters. She didn't get tired of all the hard work but seemed energised by the excitement of learning. All due to her entry into a sensitive period. It is amazing to be able to capture this energy and excitement to guide the child's learning.