• Emma

Observing your child's play ...

Observing your little one whilst they are playing freely is probably something you do all the time; after all, what is more joyous than seeing your child having fun? However, watching what your child is actually doing during their play is something which takes a little practise but is well worth it, as they give you all the information you need to plan and provide appropriate learning opportunities for them.

During their early months and years, children move through several 'Sensitive Periods' or times when they show a particularly strong interest in an aspect of their development. This means that they are primed and ready to develop skills and knowledge in that specific area of learning. You will notice your little one going back to the same toys over and over again and repeating exactly the same movements and behaviours many times. Conversely, if your child is not interested in a particular type of toy or play, this may be because that they have not yet entered that stage of development and are focussed on another skill.

"A child learns to adjust himself and make acquisitions in his sensitive periods. These are like a beam that lights interiorly or a battery that furnishes energy. It is this sensibility which enables a child to come into contact with the external world in a particularly intense manner. At such a time everything is easy; all is life and enthusiasm. Every effort marks an increase in power. Only when the goal has been obtained does fatigue and the weight of indifference come on." Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

So, what are the 'Sensitive Periods'?


This period lasts from birth to the age of 2 ½ years and you may notice your little one engrossed in perfecting certain

movements at different stages of this time period.

For example, a two month old may spend lots of time simultaneously kicking their legs and stretching their arms; often

they get into a real rhythm doing this. This is because they are driven to build core strength in preparation for rolling

over. If you notice your baby is doing this repeatedly, you can support them by providing lots of opportunities for them to practise. Your little one will benefit from their awake time being spent lying flat on a floor mat rather than in a bouncer or crib.

If you have an older baby who spends all their days pulling themselves up on furniture or sidestepping along it (often

around 9-12 months) their actions are telling you they need opportun