The Sensitive Periods
Montessori used this term to describe those periods of special sensitivity to certain stimuli that result in the child acquiring particular skills and characteristics. Just as sometimes it happens that the young child's growth is hindered by inappropriate feeding or lack of nourishment, so the wrong environment may interfere with the child's learning and cause difficulties.
The Prepared Environment
The Montessori environment gives the child a setting where everything is the right size for him/her and that everything is useful, appropriate and interesting. The child soon realises that this environment is one he can trust. He sees other children engaged in activities and finds that he can have companionship whilst being engaged independently. The child is not confused by the quantity of objects belonging to adults, whose use he cannot understand. The arrangement within the setting is simple and orderly. The atmosphere is quiet (although not silent) and calm. There is a feeling of purposeful activity.
The Montessori environment, together with the encouragement of a true co-operative partnership with parents - helping them to understand the paths of development and the sensitive periods for learning - will be able to guide the child towards a continuation of positive development.
Preparation of the Teacher
The first requirements for good management of a Montessori setting are:
- deep understanding and application of the Montessori philosophy
- knowledge and understanding of the Montessori materials and activities
- knowledge of the sequence and purposes of the activities