Les périodes sensibles

Sensitive periods

According to Maria Montessori, children naturally gravitate towards activities that are beneficial for their psychic development.

A sensitive period is a time when a child can very quickly and with pleasure learn a particular character.

In the child, there is a creative attitude and a potential energy to build a psychic world in relation to the environment. » Maria Montessori

The concept of sensitive periods was discovered by Dutch botanist Hugo De Vries in animals. The example of caterpillars illustrates this well . Indeed, when the caterpillars are born at the bottom of the branches, they are simply attracted by the light. They are therefore oriented towards the end of the branch in order to take advantage of the sun. However, it is precisely at this place that the food adapted to the metabolism of the small caterpillar is found, that is to say the tender little leaves. Some time later, the caterpillar grows and becomes indifferent to light. She then moves to other places.

The phenomenon can be compared to learning in children . The child goes through transient periods during which he is instinctively attracted to activities that are favorable for his development.

His instinct guides his choices. He is then able to learn extremely quickly. He can then assimilate in joy and concentration without providing effort . Language is a prime example. Indeed, while learning a language is laborious work for adults that requires lessons, it is done with ease for children .

" One could compare the incarnation and the sensitive periods to a window on the intimate work of the soul in process of formation thanks to which one glimpses the internal organs in the process of elaborating the psychic growth of the child" . Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori insists on the need to respect the work of the child and not to interrupt it . When a sensitive period ends, another can then begin. If learning is not acquired during the corresponding sensitive period, catching up will be very laborious. Therefore, it is essential to provide an appropriate environment, with stimulation in line with the sensitive periods that the child is going through .

There are 6 sensitive periods:

- sensitive period of the order
- sensitive period of movement
- sensitive period of language
- sensitive period of sensations
- period sensitive to small objects
- sensitive period for social life

The articles of the following weeks will be devoted to each of the sensitive periods in order to better understand them and be able to better support the child in his psychological development.

- Montessori: from birth to 3 years , Charlotte Poussin, Eyrolles.
- The child , Maria Montessori, Desclée de Brouwer.

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