Sensitive Periods - List

            “As the individual develops, he passes through a succession of well-defined stages or epochs, each of which is characterized by a peculiar sensitivity to certain aspects of his environment; and a corresponding capacity to absorb them into his mental life.”[1] 
In her writings, Dr. Montessori refers to these ‘stages or epochs’ as sensitive periods. They have been recognized by other more recent researchers and educators who have given them different varying names, noting critical, yet brief, periods of intense interest and learning that cannot be replicated at other times. Sensitive periods bring out tremendous activity geared towards a definite preference for specific aspects of the environment.

            There are four clearly defined sensitive periods, though there are quite possibly more. Some could be identified separately but are part of the four clearly defined ones; some could be quite subtle or have not been noticed due to an insufficiency in earlier development that does not allow a sensitive period to clearly show itself. 
  • language
  • order
  • refinement of the senses
  • movement
Sensitive periods are not found in adults; 
they are used for specific constructive purposes in the child.

[1] Maria Montessori and others. Ed. E.M.Standing. No year given, but a recent re-publishing of the 2nd edition published in 1965. 56.

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