Maria Montessori further breaks down the five senses into nine isolated senses, each addressed in her sensorial curriculum. Explain the importance of sensorial education and briefly discuss the exercises for the education of all the senses.
“ The aim of the sensorial exercises is not that the child shall know colors, form and the different qualities of objects, but that he refines his sense through an exercise of attention, of comparison, of judgment.” The traditional awareness of senses has 5, which is visual/seeing, auditory/hearing, olfactory/smelling, tactile/touching, and gustatory/tasting. In the understanding of children from Montessori, children are more in need of detail and perfection if the opportunities are offered, so Montessori expanded these five sense to include chromatic/ color, baric/weight, thermic/temperature, and stereognostic/tactile-muscular.
The child from birth to age 6 – being an early explorer of the world, having the refined 9 senses, enhancing the ability to use the senses and refined the use of his body as the key to guide his exploration of the world, it opens the path to knowledge. The direct aims of the sensorial exercises are to refine the child’s senses so that he can differentiate even the slightest differences in order to truly observe and appreciate the world. Each exercises specifically isolates one sense at a time, to heighten the sense by repetition of the exercise for a further preparation of intellectual development in an orderly mind. The sensorial exercises are not only for the purpose of the sense areas, but also for child’s mathematics mind, language development and writing.
The need for order, exactness, self-correction and reflection – all were qualities that Montessori saw were needed in order for the children to develop, as they should. All the sensorial exercises are made and taught to best help the child to clarify and expand their existing sensorial experiences, so it leads to pay attention both to the child himself and to his surroundings.
Visual Sense – exercises developed by requiring the eye to perceive the different in size, forms, and color. The Pink Tower, Brown Stairs, Red Rods, Knobbed and Knobbles Cylinders, which are designed to stimulate the visual sense, are also graded by size to refine the visual discrimination of the child’s visual. The Geometric Solid and the Geometric Cabinet are the introductional material for three dimensions and two dimension, as the preparation for mathematic and science. Chromatic Sense – the Color Boxes are first introduced to help isolating the chromatic sense for the child. By distinguishing between the primary colors, then secondary, and finally the various grading of each, allow the child to look at a tree and see the variation of green found in the leaves. The child can truly perceive the beauty in his surroundings. Stereognostic Sense – the child learns through his hands to perceive size and shape of objects. The child is encourage to look at the objects while touching them, this sense will be heighten especially if they are blindfold. The Geometric solids and Mystery bags are used to help the child understand what an angel is or a button is when the child feel it and experience it by eye and hand.
Tactile Sense – it is interpreted through the skin. This touching exercises start with touching different grades of sandpaper, then move to different material in the environment like Baric Tablets and Fabric. Montessori method encourages the child to “sensitized” the fingertips either by vigorously rubbing them or dunk them in tepid water, this sensitization heightens the perception of different between extra-fine and super-fine sandpaper, and between silk and linen etc. Thermic Sense – the child learns to differentiate the temperature by touch, he is encourage to determines hot and cold by holding metal bottles in both of his hands or by touching different kinds of stones. Knowledge of the Thermic sense protects the child from harm. Baric Sense – the child learns to distinguish the weights using the whole arm in conjunction with the hands and tactile sense to determine light vs heavy. Once the child learn to the Baric Tablets, he is encourage to move around the other child-size furniture around the room and his world for a further exploration of the weights.
Auditory sense – the child is very sensitive to everything when it comes to hearing, in order to understand sound, the child has already be introduced the silent in the Silent game at the earlier stage, now they then can be introduced to match the sound and grade the sound with the Sound Cylinders. Olfactory sense – the child learns through the sense of smell to make a connection between eating and smelling. Matching different herbal smells or other smell in the Smelling Bottles help the child to use this ability to understand the environment. Gustatory sense – the child interprets the world through the tongue by tasting. Stimulating his taste buds by first introducing the taste of sweet, sour, bitter and salty by the Tasting Solution.
Engaging a child with all these sensorial impression and educational exercise extends his tendency towards curiosity. The child becomes thoughtful as he considers his past experiences, where information was stored chaotically and the present perception of the material, and experience the combination of both. This drives the tendencies of work, particularly concentration and repetition as just the right challenge is given in conjunction with each Control of Error through exercise, allowing the child to review and evaluate his work. Developing the senses improves energy, focus, and the ability to self-regulate behavior. The Sensorial exercises facilitate the whole brain learning and further assist the child academically and practically is his life. During the exercise, when the differences are clear, the names are introduced to describe the concept, Montessori build concept upon concept, the child is able to classify, discriminate and judge many objects and sounds, this help the child to order these early experience and drive him to rediscover the world, looking for detail, similarity and different to refine his senses with the eye of intelligence to the greatest possible degree during his sensitive period. Once the child has learned all these sensorial exercises, he sees the world differently and has a more detail refinement of his senses as well as a better appreciation of his world.
The Absorbent Mind. 2nd ed. USA: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1995. MARIA MONTESSORI. The Discovery of the Child. 6th ed. USA: The Random House Publishing Group, 1967 MARIA MONTESSORI, E.M. STANDING. Her Life and Work. USA: The Penguin Group, 1998