When we look at a child doing a specific task such as reach for a bottle or a toy they are absorbing all of the information regarding that action as well as all of the other activity around them. During the course of the learning and development process, however, there are periods of learning where the child is hyper focused on the tasks and results of those tasks. This period of learning is known as montessori sensitive periods.
When a child enters into this hyper state of learning Montessori theorizes that the mind is reverting to its pure natural state. In this state the mind is functioning at peak efficiency. During these sensitive periods the brain of the child is said to retain almost 100% of the information they need to learn.
Tests for the sensitive periods of mental development
When working with children in their development process several tests and activities can be created to get the most out of the child’s mind. The areas of learning that benefit the most from these tests are language activities, movement and motor skills as well as order and placement tests.
When testing, language skills are typically the first that will be tested. This can be done by telling a child a story and then asking them to repeat what it is they learned. From there the instructor will give the child several choices in logic. If the child’s mind is in this hyper state the odds of picking the most logical choice was made.
When the child’s mind is in these sensitive periods they will be able to improve their motor skills with greater efficiency. One exercise would be tossing a ball back and forth. The instructor can toss the ball in predictable patterns and the child can anticipate where the ball will land next.
With these tests and a child in the right mindset, the Montessori sensitive periods will help increase a child’s ability to learn and retain information.