216 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
We can, then, help the development of the senses while they are in this period. We may graduate and adapt the stimuli just as, for example, it is necessary to help the formation of language before it shall be completely developed.
All education of little children must be governed by this principle — to help the natural psychic and physical development of the child.
The other aim of education (that of adapting the individual to the environment) should be given more attention later on when the period of intense development is past.
These two phases of education are always interlaced, but one or the other has prevalence according to the age of the child. Now, the period of life between the ages of three and seven years covers a period of rapid physical development. It is the time for the formation of the sense activities as related to the intellect. The child in this age develops his senses. His attention is further attracted to the environment under the form of passive curiosity.
The stimuli, and not yet the reasons for things, attract his attention. This is, therefore, the time when we should methodically direct the sense stimuli, in such a way that the sensations which he receives shall develop in a rational way. This sense training will prepare the ordered foundation upon which he may build up a clear and strong mentality.
It is, besides all this, possible with the education of the senses to discover and eventually to correct defects which to-day pass unobserved in the school. Now the time comes when the defect manifests itself in an evident and irreparable inability to make use of the forces of