Importance of Early Entrance
Dr. Montessori discovered that between birth and six years of age, children have a heightened capacity for learning that will never again be so compelling and influential. Dr. Montessori said, "The most important period of life was not the age of university studies but the period from birth to the age of six."
Children in the first years of development (0-6) have what Dr. Montessori referred to as the absorbent mind- a mind that takes in the entirety of their surroundings without discrimination.
During this stage of development children also experience the Sensitive Periods. These are critical periods in a child's development between birth and age six that show key sensitivity to attention and exploration of their environment. Once the Sensitive Periods have passed learning is not as deep and is more difficult for the brain.
Children in the First years of development are keenly aware of others and have an innate desire to imitate and repeat as they construct themselves. They observe their teachers movements closely and are aware of the smallest details.
The teachers are trained to present materials in a slow and logical manner so that children can observe each individual movement. The children then practice with great exactitude and independence until the skill is mastered.
It is through this process that development of will, concentration, sense of order, logical thinking and problem solving takes place. This is the period when the child constructs himself and lays the foundation for all other learning.
What is missed in a child's development during this period can create gaps in learning and understanding in the years to come.
Sensitive Period According to Dr. Montessori and Why it is Important in Child Development
Sensitive periods in a child's life are like windows of opportunities a child gets to learn different skills.
The child is extra sensitive to the stimuli received to learn a particular skill during these periods. If the child does not get the necessary stimuli during this period the opportunity to acquire the skill with ease is missed forever. It is important to understand this and as adults, we must be aware of such periods in the child's development so that we can provide help to the child when needed.
"There are limits to the brain's ability to create it. Time limits. Called "critical periods", they are windows of opportunities that nature slams shut, one by one, with every candle on the child's birthday cake."
Skills & Knowledge
How are skills and knowledge acquired?
Learning, according to Dr. Montessori comes from a structured and prepared environment. The early years, from birth to six, are the most formative and are too often wasted by not realizing the child's true potential.
Learning at this stage can be easy, fun and important to the developing child.
To the young child, learning is a natural function of childhood - effortless and challenging and more meaningful than idle play. Dr. Montessori believed that preschool education for children under the age of six was necessary and that children learned from having the freedom to explore and manipulate the environment. She believed that children learned through interacting with their peers and with the specifically designed materials available within the Montessori school.