From Birth to age six,
children undergo five unique sensitive periods for learning. During these periods, they have absorbent minds where knowledge effortlessly enters like water into a sponge. During these sensitive periods, information enters the child’s subconscious mind and later spontaneously emerges in his/her conscious mind when he/she learns by discovery. After age six, learning becomes different and requires not only a different strategy but also a different level of conscious effort.
The five sensitive periods are:
1. Social relationships and skills
2. Sensitive period for order
3. Senses refining
The standard approach to preschool and kindergarten education these days is top down A top down approach asks what students need to learn in kindergarten to be prepared for first grade which is far different from a ground up developmental approach that understands and acknowledges the sensitive periods from birth to age 6, and nurtures them as they arise naturally. In a ground up approach, a preschool or kindergarten program would be a natural extension of what children are ready to learn when they enter that level.
Pre-school aged children are not required to be in school and, for the most part, the opportunity of providing a developmentally appropriate learning environment for all 4-year-olds has been missed. In recent years, however, preparing children for kindergarten has been garnering more support from the standpoint of “readiness” or top down. The Florida Department of Education(DOE) is responsible for creating performance standards, recommending curricula, providing professional development and educational accountability requirements. Through the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program (VPK), private providers are permitted to design their own curriculum as long as it meets the Pre-K performance standards to prepare students for the statewide kindergarten screening.
The pre-school and kindergarten years are the most formative and learning is specialized through the sensitive periods. A developmentally appropriate program honors and appreciates how children at this age learn. Children are busy with the task of creating their conscious minds. Through the sensitive periods, they absorb information like a sponge. Only when an individual is ready can the point of consciousness occur. It can’t be forced, predicted or hurried. Expectations of teachers and curriculum restraints should never over or underestimate the ability of children during these sensitive periods