The Sensitive Periods
Montessori defined a sensitive period as “ a special sensibility, which a creature acquires in its infantile state, while it is still in a process of evolution. It is a transient disposition and limited to the acquisition of a particular trait. Once this trait, or characteristic has been acquired, the special sensibility disappears”. During sensitive periods the child is in a moment of concentration and focuses on particular objects in the environment. They explore the environment to develop certain skills or concepts. Once they have mastered the skill, the sensitive period disappears.
Sensitive Period for Music (2.5- 6 yrs)
During this period, children are sensitive to learning and absorbing music. Children should receive music instruction during their sensitive period, ages two through six. A problem occurs when children do not receive music instruction during these sensitive periods because they lose out on valuable brain growth and development.
Providing age appropriate activities within the musical environment will allow children to develop their skills and to reach their musical potential. Music is a language. As children have daily contact and interaction with their parents, family and friends, they learn how to speak their language. The language of music can be passed on in the same way as their native language. When music is brought into the child’s environment they are encouraged to participate in music activities. By bringing music into the child’s environment they are given the opportunity to develop a sense of rhythm, pitch, music vocabulary and to learn a variety of melodies and songs. Children who are exposed to music before the age of seven are virtually the only individuals who develop perfect pitch.
The child’s hands is his chief teacher
Montessori highlighted the importance of the hand. She said “Never give more to the eye and ear than you do to the hand”. When we ‘educate’ the senses we are not helping the child to see but helping him to know what he sees. The child cannot see properly without his hands. If a child is looking at some flowers in a garden and picks them, he is not being naughty like an adult may think. The child just wants to study the flowers in more detail. The child cannot learn unless his hands are active and working. The hand is like an extension of their brain. When the hand is working there is concentration and inner growth.
“The training of the senses must begin in the formative period of life if we wish to perfect them through education and make use of them in any particular human skill”- Maria Montessori