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Sensitive Periods and Child's Development

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Submitted By sekeebong
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A child’s ultimate goal in life is to create the person s/he is to become (Montessori, 2012). There are intrinsic and universal powers within a child that are rudimentary in his/her arduous task of self-construction. Montessori identified these elements as: the human tendencies (1966, 2007a, 2007b), the planes of development (2007a), the absorbent mind (2007a), and the sensitive periods (1966). This paper will give an account on how these elements come together in a child’s life, and how, with the understanding of this concepts, the adults – parents, carers and educators alike – can prepare a favourable environment most suitable for the optimal formation of man. It will also provide examples of the unfolding of this process of growth and development.

Montessori (2012) identified three planes of development which are grouped into six-year cycles: birth to age six, age six to 12, and age 12 to 18 (Montessori, 2012). The second plane, childhood, is peaceful and stable, while the first and third planes, the absorbent mind and adolescence, respectively, are periods of dramatic changes and creative transformations. Montessori believed that the first stage of growth is the most important one because “(a)t no other age has the child greater need of an intelligent help, and any obstacles that impedes his creative work will lessen the chance he has of achieving perfection” (2007a, p26).

According to Montessori (2012), a child’s mind possesses unique powers, present only in this stage, which indiscriminately absorbs all the impressions from the environment with which s/he effortlessly creates his/her psychic personality. She called it the Absorbent Mind. This mind, which is different from the adult’s reasoning one, has two sub-phases: the unconscious absorbent mind (Montessori, 2007a), from birth to age three, and the conscious absorbent mind (MCI, 2013a) from age…...

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