Montessori Sensorial: Why it’s so important and how it can contribute to holistic success

Montessori Sensorial: Why it’s so important and how it can contribute to holistic success

By Paula-Elizabeth Jordan


I have always been impressed with the whole concept of sensory refinement within Montessori. So when planning an article to share why I think it’s so important and how I believe that it can contribute to the holistic success of your “Family Team” I actually went back to the Sensorial File I created during my training (I always received top marks for my files!). In the introduction it eloquently puts forwards that in addition to sensory refinement the sensorial materials embed various concepts that enable the child to begin to develop his/her mathematical mind. This is because the child is learning to sequence, order and grade various objects. Maria Montessori designed all the equipment herself in a way that isolated each concept so the child could see clearly what they were learning with each activity. Plus she absolutely covered every single aspect of sensory refinement; colour, shape, size, texture, smell, sound and even taste! Each activity presents a concept to the child that “explains” something about the World around them. Thus making it simpler for the child to subconsciously learn these concepts, so when it comes to more direct learning at school they have a clear head start! 🙂


The reason that I applaud the Sensorial Materials so much is because; as noted by Maria Montessori in more than one of her books, Everything in the mind had to travel through the senses first. If you pay attention to how children learn right from the beginning they explore their environment using their senses. Thus it makes sense (makes sense ha!) to conclude that the more refined their senses are, the moreinformation” they are able to absorb, and thus the more they are able to learn. This concept was also supported in the Photo-Reading workshop I attended a few years ago. I would also like to point out here that very interestingly what we call “intuition” is actually our senses observing something that our mind hasn’t yet fully “received” and “translated”. If you enjoy learning like I do you’ll have learn that a “gut feeling” that is really based on “perception” and “intuition” is very accurate and the people who are mostin tune” with their “gut instincts” tend to be very success in life. That alone presents a very thought-provoking reason to expose children to activities that help refine their senses. 🙂


So if you don’t have access to many/any Montessori activities, how could you help a child to refine their senses at home? One of the best activities to do with a child that is totally “multi-sensorial” is cooking! The great thing about cooking is that older children could be encouraged to read the recipe (or a simplified version of it – depending upon their age/stage) and younger children could have a “picture” diagram of the recipe. Think about the rich sensory experience that baking a simple cake provides. Looking at/ reading the ingredients and the recipe and listening to your guidance about what to do. Measuring out all the ingredients and the feel, smell and taste (where appropriate) of everything. You almost have to be careful not to over-stimulate, so start simple and if they really enjoy cooking, you can work steadily up to more complicated recipes. Another thing that is helps you to realise is that reading has to also be learnt through the senses. Because it’s an abstract concept we don’t always think about it in this way, it’s interesting to think that maybe a child who’s had a lot of visual, sound and touch sensorypracticecould be less likely to become dyslexic as they are more observant of the shapes of each letter. Is there a connection? – I would definitely want to increase a child’s probability of finding reading and other learning more straight-forward. 🙂


One interesting thing to note here is people who are either blind or deaf – “one sense down” from the rest of us – their four remaining senses tend to be more sensitive and receptive. I’m going to give blindness as an example as I’ve actually experienced this in my own life. I met a blind person at a Personal-Development Seminar and what amazed me was how “perceptive” he was, even when it came to things like “spelling errors”!! Yes, you heard me – perceptive – yet the “sense” that we usually associate with this is “sight” that he had sadly lost during childhood. What I think this demonstrates is that we can think we have fairly well refined senses, but someone like this guy shows us that there is still more to learn when it comes to sensory refinement. It’s very poignant to note here what Helen Keller, who was “two senses down”, achieved in her life.  🙂


Another fantastic way to provide “stimulation” for children’s senses is to get them engaged with nature outdoors in the fresh air. This is so easy, even if you live in a city, there are always open spaces of park-land you can find and nature is free!! 🙂


Also another great way to help children refine their senses is to make up activities that involve them having to sort, grade and order things. A really simple one is to get them helping you take in the washing and ask them to pair the socks. They would need to look at the size of the socks, the colour and the patterns to pair them correctly. Plus, anything you have that needs sorting/ organising, get your children helping you – This turns a mundane task into a “Family-Teamactivity where you can bond, learn and grow together. 🙂


I think it’s also useful to share with you that I know a lot of “sensory stimulatingactivities can be bought very reasonably on sites like Amazon; so it’s definitely worth taking a look. 🙂


It’s interesting when we actually stop, look and see exactly how much we already have at our disposal to help refine children’s senses. Plus, what great for you as the adult is that you get to use your creative skills to improvise and devise various activities. That creative process is also good for your well-being too! 🙂


I’ve mentioned about the purpose of sensorial activities within a Montessori classroom and how you can improvise at home. So now I’m going to touch on how having more refined senses can actually support the holistic success of your “Family-Team”. For children this is in the different areas of development; that is, physical, intellectual, linguistic, social emotional and spiritual. For adults, this is in the three important key areas of life, namely work, love and play. 🙂


I’ll start with children and the different areas of development. If a child has had the opportunity to refine their senses through “sensory play”, whether that’s in a Montessori Pre-School, or at home, then they are naturally going to be able to move more nimbly and have better hand-eye co-ordination, because they’ve had that opportunity to be more “practised” at the skills they need to develop this. With intellectual development, it’s rather “profoundly obvious” that to “sensitise” the parts of the body that takes in information, a child will learn to naturally take in more information more straight-forwardly. I believe when it comes to language, a child first will learn more vocabulary, because they’re used to doing a variety of activities that automatically introduces them to more vocabulary. NB For those who are especially interested, any new vocabulary is given to the child after they have been introduced to the activity and have had a chance to experiment with it. Plus, with refined hearing and senses in general a child will naturally learn to listen better. Good listening means a child is able to focus and thus take in more when learning at school. Also good listening will support a child socially because they’ve had the opportunity to develop increased listening skills which is almost more important when it comes to success in conversation exchange. This “ability” is likely to make him/her more popular with his/her peers as they’ve had a chance to develop some of these “inner social tools”. 🙂


I definitely believe and have seen it with children I’ve worked with that as they’ve had the opportunity first to increase their channels of learning (their senses) and thus their capability in general to learn and second, as a result of this are able to “take in” and learn more, they are more relaxed emotionally and stable within themselves. From my personal observations about the way children learn and develop it stands out that emotional stability gives them that “peace of mind” within themselves to really achieve in all other areas. Our body and mind are intimately connected so to dramatically increase a child’s opportunity to become more emotionally stable, through sensory refinement, the gateway to all learning is completely opened up. 🙂


Finally spiritually development, which can crudely be defined as a person’s ability to “seeoutside his/her own “bubble of needs” first to the needs and desires of others around them, second, to more community/ World needs. Someone who is very spiritually connected is likely to be a very charitable/ giving person. First, if a child has learnt to increase their ability to learn and is thus able to connect better with people, they’re naturally going to be better able to observe the needs of others. As a sensitive adult, you can help them to develop this to become caring and contributing members of their community. Children love it when they’re able to do something really useful for someone – it’s very fulfilling and naturally takes care of spiritual well-being. 🙂


Now I will touch on how sensory refinement can help you as the adult and “Leader”/ “Co-Creator” of your “Family-Team” to be more successful in “work”, “love” and “play”. It’s a natural given that if you’ve ensured to actively refine your senses further as an adult that you will be able to take in increased amounts of information and thus perform more efficiently at work. Better listening skills from refined hearing and an increased ability to concentrate and “take things in” in a multi-sensory way will support all of your social relationships; with work colleagues – this is especially important if you are “The Boss” as you will be able to get your “teamworking more effectively together. Plus, it will help you socially with your friends and with your partner and children. You can be certain that if the people around you feelheard”, you are going to have a much easier time “getting what you need” from them and therefore creating a better and easier life for yourself and your family. 🙂


Also, refined senses can actually help create a more “uniquecareer path for you. If you think about “wine-tasting” that necessitates well refined taste-buds to be done successfully could lead you to becoming a collector/seller of rare wines. Also, certain celebrity chefs, for me it’s Jamie Oliver who stand out here, give the impression that their taste-buds are so refined that they are actually able to taste a new dish in their minds before creating it! It’s not just refined taste-buds that can lead to a more unique career path; if you are more perceptive about something in society, you can either choose to help people “over-come” what you notice seems to be a “pitfall” for certain people, or become a comedian and help people laugh and see the funny side of things that “go wrong” for everyone!! – This creates a bigger choice for you to focus on whatever you like doing/ works for you. Successful Entrepreneurs do this well. 🙂


I would now like to touch on a very important point in general communication where refined senses can help make a huge difference for you; this is especially important when it comes to “Love”. Most of what we communicate is actually done through voice-tone and body-language. You only have to think of a couple at the very beginning stages in a relationship to recognise this. A woman will give off subtle social “cues” that a man will follow that lead them to start a conversation and get to know each other better. Well if you have more refined senses, especially perception and listening, you are automatically going to be able to notice and follow these “cues”. It’s also worth thinking about it this way; someone who doesn’t notice these socialpatterns” and “cues” are more unlikely to recognise, or know what other people are “silently communicating” through voice-tone and body language. Thus they are notset up” for success. I actually feel that “social patterns and cues” can begin to be learned through childhood; the reason I went into depth more here about being able to perceive voice-tone and body-language more effectively is because I think it’s more important to you as the adult where more is naturally expected of you. A great book to read on body- language that really demonstrates the author’s increased level of “multi-sensory perception” is What Every Body is Saying” (love the pun!) by Joe Navarro who is an Ex FBI Agent! 🙂


Finally, our senses also actively contribute to learning basic survival and this is good for our well-being! I think that basic survival skills actually help grow our confidence as they subconsciously make us feel that we are more familiar with “life” and how it works and thus have a bit of an “edge” over other people. The more refined your senses are the more observant you’ll become and the better able you’ll be to recognise and distinguish between things. For example, which berries, or mushrooms are edible and which are poisonous. In addition to being great fun to learn, basic survival skills also give us greater confidence to feel we can “survive life”. That is definitely nurturing to anyone’s well-being, especially that of a child. 🙂


If you would like me to expand more, or want information about how you can increase your child/ children’s “multi-sensory perception”, please email me at: or message me through social media; Twitter/ Instagram, @FamilyTeamCoach, Facebook/LinkedIn, Paula-Elizabeth Jordan, thank-you.


Photo Credit: LePort Schools


expert biography

Paula-Elizabeth Jordan is a Montessori trained Child-Development Expert who’s passionate about helping “Family Teams” work together for the benefit of each other, as this is how successful, well-balanced, happy children are raised. She has been Montessori trained for over ten years now and also has a degree in Theology with an Art minor. She is presently writing her own book entitled; “How to Bring up A Successful Human-Being”.

Paula-Elizabeth Photo

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