Dr. Montessori also believed that children go through stages of intellectual interest and curiosity- which she called “Sensitive Periods” –of intense fascination for learning a particular skill or concept. During a sensitive period children can learn new things, master new skills almost effortlessly. For example, the sensitive period for music is between 2 and 6 years. During this period children show great interest in rhythm and melody, if exposed to music on a regular basis.(video of 2.5 yr old recognizing ragas can be shown) During the sensitive period for order (2 to 4 years age) the child loves routine and wants everything in its place. He also enjoys repetition and consistency. Parents and teachers will be more effective in supporting the child’s development if they are more aware of all the various sensitive periods and utilize them to the fullest.
Of course, the beginning and end of each sensitive period varies from child to child and so there is the need to carefully observe and respond to each of our children individually. This is the time when children learn new skills almost unconsciously. Once children have mastered a skill or concept, the sensitive period seems to disappear. So if children are not given the chance of the right exposure and stimulation at the right time, the opportunity to learn will pass. The child can still learn but will have to put in more effort.
Whatever the child learns during the early stages is crucial as it lays the foundation for his / her future development.