The 11 Montessori Sensitive Periods Every Child Experiences

montessori sensitive periods

Montessori Sensitive Periods are a series of windows in time that allow your child to learn particular skills at an accelerated rate. This means you can take advantage of these windows and help your child develop essential skills like language, math, and socialization.

As we all know, children grow quickly and change every day. They have different learning needs at different ages, so parents need to be able to help them learn new things as they go along. Using Montessori Sensitive Periods, you can pinpoint what your child needs help with at any given time and provide them with the necessary tools for success.

How Sensitive Periods Impact the Growth of Children?

Sensitive periods are windows of opportunity for growth. They are periods where the brain is more receptive to learning and developing new skills, and they’re vital to the healthy development of children.

Montessori sensitive periods are similar to windows that open and close. They last for a limited time, which means if your child misses the window, they may never get another chance at it again!

A sensitive period is a time in your child’s life when their brain is more receptive than usual to learn new things, including developing skills or behaviors like walking or talking. The term “sensitive” refers to how quickly these windows close once they’ve passed. If your child doesn’t learn something during a sensitive period, they may never be able to catch it again—and that’s why it’s so crucial for parents to make sure their kids aren’t missing out on opportunities during these special times!

Exploring the 11 Montessori Sensitive Periods: How to Identify and Respond

In Montessori, education and practical life follow a child-led approach, where parents are encouraged to observe their child’s interests and provide activities and lessons accordingly.

When children are put in charge of their education and allowed to follow their interests, they learn more easily and naturally.

The Montessori sensitive periods are a series of windows that open up as your child grows, allowing them to learn new things quickly. These periods present the best learning opportunity, but they also close soon if your child misses the window—and if this happens, they may never be able to develop that skill again.

Here are the 11 Montessori sensitive periods that parents need to know about:

montessori sensitive periods
  1. Movement
  2. Language
  3. Order
  4. Small Objects
  5. Sensations
  6. Emotional Control
  7. Music
  8. Math Patterns
  9. Reading
  10. Writing
  11. Toilet Learning

These Montessori sensitive periods are essential for developing your child’s academic skills, socialization, and gross/fine motor skills. Everything from hand-eye coordination to self-control is developed during these sensitive periods.

In addition to its developmental impact, each sensitive period will have a specific theme that will help your child learn in new ways.

Understanding the Montessori Sensitive Periods: Enhancing Early Learning Experiences

In Montessori’s view, children go through eleven different developmental phases during which certain skills are more motivated to be learned.

Sensitive Period 1: Movement

montessori sensitive periods

Age Range: 2.5 years (Walking: 12 – 15 months)

The first movement-sensitive period begins with a child’s first steps, usually between 10-12 months old. This is when they discover how to use their arms, legs, hands, and feet independently. They will continue to develop these movement skills through crawling, walking on tiptoes, running, jumping over objects, climbing stairs one foot at a time, and all sorts of fun!

At this age, your child’s gross motor skills are developing rapidly. This development period is vital to strengthening both gross and fine motor skills. At this age, you must provide your child with ample opportunities to run around, jump, and move their body in different ways.

Sensitive Period 2: Language

Age Range: Birth – 6 years (Speaking: 7 months to 3 years)

Maria Montessori believed that language learning was a critical part of a child’s development and that it should begin as early as possible. She wanted children to learn how to communicate their needs and wants through speech. This is why she advocated for the use of language in her schools, even at an early age. 

However, Montessori also believed there were sensitive periods during which children were especially receptive to learning a language. The first sensitive period occurs between birth and seven months of age when infants learn how to make sense of the sounds they hear around them. After this period ends, they enter into another sensitive period between seven months and three years old, during which they can form words using those sounds. 

During these periods, children are particularly open to learning new skills like speaking or reading because their brains are developing rapidly during this time.

Sensitive Period 3: Order

sensitive period 3 order

Age Range: 1 – 4 years

During this period, the desire for order encompasses structure, consistency, routines, and repetitions. Children begin to realize that there are different things in the world and that these things have a sequence. They combine what they know in terms of nature with their minds and begin to make sense of the world around them. 

Montessori believed that children were open to learning new things during this period because they could analyze their world and make sense of it in simple, sequential ways.

Many children enjoy this period because they can apply their newly learned skills to meaningful situations.

Sensitive Period 4: Small Objects

Age Range: 1 – 4 years

Children at this age begin to show interest in small, irregularly shaped objects like buttons, pebbles, and pieces of wood. They will show great interest in these objects because they are fascinating, and many are fun to play with.

Montessori believed that children greatly desired to understand the world around them during this period. During this time, they begin to learn new concepts like cause and effect, and they also understand how one thing relates to another based on size or shape.

Sensitive Period 5: Sensations / Refinement of Senses

sensations/refinement of senses

Age Range: 1 –6 years

This sensitive period focuses on developing your child’s senses. Your child will learn how to recognize different textures and tastes, as well as how to identify sounds from various sources. During this time, parents need to provide plenty of sensory experiences for their children (such as going on walks outside) so that they can learn about their world through touch or smell rather than just sight alone.

Montessori believed that children during this sensitive period learn best when their senses are exposed to new experiences. This way, they become comfortable with the new things they encounter and will therefore be able to develop their intellectual abilities more quickly.

Sensitive Period 6: Emotional Control / Self-regulation

Age Range: 2 – 6 years 

In Montessori schools, children learn to control their emotions by observing and imitating the emotional control of the adults around them. The children are encouraged to participate in activities that allow them to control themselves and develop empathy for others. This sensitive period is when a child’s emotions are very strong, and they need help learning how to cope.

This sensitive period aims to have children learn how to control their emotions by identifying what makes them happy or sad, angry or scared. They will also learn how to recognize other people’s emotions and how they feel when someone else’s emotions are out of control (angry). These skills will help them become more self-aware so that they can take responsibility for their actions and behavior and understand how their actions affect others around them.

Sensitive Period 7: Music

sensitive period 7 music

Age Range: 2 – 6 years 

Music is a powerful tool in the Montessori classroom. It can help children develop their sense of rhythm, improve their listening skills, and even learn how to read music. The sensitive period for music is between the ages of two and six, which is also the same time children learn about rhythm and movement. When using music in your classroom, ensure that your chosen songs are age-appropriate and focus on developing the child’s skills rather than just entertaining them.

Sensitive Period 8: Math Patterns

Age Range: 2 – 6 years 

This sensitive period focuses on learning patterns or sequences of numbers, shapes, and letters. It also involves learning to sort objects into groups based on similarities and differences. Children in the Montessori classroom are encouraged to arrange math materials in a logical sequence and recognize how each item relates to the other objects around it. For example, they can put the small shapes in one group, the square ones in another, and so on.

In addition to seeing how things relate to one another visually, children learn how things relate through numbers.

Sensitive Period 9: Reading

montessori sensitive periods

Age Range: 2 – 5 years 

Children will learn to read easily and become proficient readers during this time. However, if they do not begin to read, it may be more difficult for them to catch up later in school. This particular sensitive period lasts longer than most others because it requires so much from the child in terms of cognitive development. In order to read, a child must be able to understand concepts like letter sounds and how words are made out of letters.

Sensitive Period 10: Writing

Age Range: 3 – 4 years 

This sensitive period is a very important stage in your child’s development, as it lays the foundation for their literacy skills for the rest of their life.

During this time, your child will learn how to form letters and connect them to start words. They will also begin to understand that they need to use punctuation marks correctly (e.g., commas and periods) when writing sentences.

You can help support your child’s development during this sensitive period by providing them with plenty of opportunities to practice writing letters and words on paper as well as using an iPad or tablet computer. Invest in fun games that encourage creative play, such as drawing pictures or creating stories with friends or family.

Sensitive Period 11: Spatial Relationships / Toilet Learning 

montessori sensitive periods

Age Range: 4-6 (Toilet learning: 1 – 3 years)

The sensitive period for Spatial Relationships is the age range of 4-6. During this time, children are learning to use their bodies as a tool in order to interact with the world around them. This means they must learn how to use their bodies in space and coordinate their movements with others.

This is also the age at which most children are ready to begin toilet training. It is important to note that toilet training can start earlier or later than this age range—it depends on your child. Still, it’s generally considered an appropriate time frame for beginning toilet training if your child is between 3 and 5 years old.


Learning is not only about cognitive development but also about developing the whole child. The sensitive periods in the classroom allow parents and teachers to help children learn how to relate to their environment, with others, and with themselves.

Are you interested in Montessori education for your child or student? Montessori Academy offers unique, flexible, and personalized programs. We are looking forward to welcoming you to our growing community!

Contact us today to learn more.


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