The Sensory Principle: The Next Step in Montessori Excellence

Maria Montessori believed in each child’s ability to reach his full potential in his own time if given the opportunity and an environment in which to develop naturally.  The second principle of Montessori Curriculum is the sensorial aspect. The five senses – seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting – are natural processes, beginning at birth, which help a child make sense of his environment.  Montessori teachers use these senses as teaching tools from birth, helping children organize their understanding of life and learning and their place in the world.  Children who can make sense of their environment have more control of their lives.

Our sensorial material provides a kind of guide to observation, for it classifies the impressions that each sense can receive: the colors, notes, noises, forms and sizes, touch-sensations, odors and tastes. This undoubtedly is also a form of culture, for it leads us to pay attention both to ourselves and to our surroundings.” ~ The Absorbent Mind

Montessori Education teaches that each child’s ability to reach his full potential can be best achieved if he is given the opportunities and environment to develop naturally. By placing the priority on the children and their natural environment first, Montessori teachers encourage them and motivate them to think differently than they would under a standard educational process. The Montessori approach makes them more aware of their surroundings and provides tools for independent thinking children.

Once the teacher receives training on the sensory method and prepares to direct her class, her focus must be to provide lessons which introduce each child to the materials involved in each learning station. The child then learns by experiencing the lesson with his own hands.   “Control of error” is built into the lesson plan to enable a wholesome education.

Control of error in the materials aids the child’s much-needed independence. To understand what “control of error” means, we can look at DIY cards and counters for basic numbers 1-10.  There are exactly 55 counters as a “control of error”. That means there will be too few or too many counters at the end if the child makes an error.  

Children not only gain academic intelligences, but emotional, social and practical intelligences as a result of the sensory principle. They also learn more personal skills, such as self-esteem, security, and confidence, required for an effective life.

Parents and teachers are the guides who provide aid to a child.  Too often, however, adults interfere excessively when the child really just needs gentle direction to help him stay within the limits of his natural development. If given the opportunity, children will establish a level of focus and awareness in working with the materials that surprises most adults.

Maria Montessori Said: “The education of the senses should be begun methodically in infancy and should continue during the entire period of instruction which is to prepare the individual for life in society.” Source: Maria Montessori & The Method of Early Child Development.

Maria Montessori wrote continuously about the spiritual journey and self-awareness which every teacher must experience in order to be effective. Our Sensory Curriculum gives children some of their first experiences using their senses to experience and make sense of the world. This early development sets the foundation for future educational achievements.