Lets take a look at the time at Preschool and the hopes and fears of parents. In order to provide children with an advantage in school, there is a tendency to expect they will be taught the first steps in reading and writing at Preschool. This expectation, however, contradicts the natural principles of development.
Life consists of different stages of development and growth. A toddler independently learns to move. They turn from their back onto their front, then learn to sit, to crawl and eventually to walk and run.
Each of these steps is important and requires time. None of these steps can be skipped, and this applies to all stages of life.
Maria Montessori describes these as the ‘sensitive periods’ of infancy:
“A sensitive period refers to a special sensibility which a creature acquires in its infantile state, while it is still in a process of growth. It is a transient disposition and limited to the acquisition of a particular trait. Once this trait or characteristic has been acquired, the special sensibility disappears.”
From “The secret of Childhood” by M. Montessori
A child learns according to a predetermined plan. From time to time various “learning windows” open up and the child has to be given time to experience this period. Parents have to support the child in these phases by providing adequate learning offers:
“A child is naturally much weaker than an adult. If he is to develop his personality, it is necessary that the adult should hold himself in check and follow the lead given by the child. And he should regard it as a privilege that he is able to understand and follow him.”