188 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
child between three and six years of age it is in the formative
We can, then, help the development of the senses during
this very period, graduating and adapting the stimuli, just as
we ought to aid the acquisition of speech before it is completely
All the education of early childhood ought to be based on
this principle—to aid the natural development of the child.
The other part of education, that of adapting the individual
to the environment, will become more important, when the period
of intense development is past.
The two parts are always interlaced but the predominance of
either of them depends on the age.
The period of life which lies between three and six years is a
period of rapid psychical growth and of building up the sensorial
mental faculties. The child of that age is developing his senses;
his attention is therefore directed towards the observation of his
It is the stimuli for things, not the reasons, which attract his
attention; it is, then, the time to direct sense stimuli methodically,
in order that sensations should evolve rationally. In this way
is prepared a basis on which may be built up a positive mentality
for the child.
Besides, through the education of the senses it is possible to
discover and correct casual defects which today are not noticed
in the schools, at least until the time in which the defect shows
itself by a definite and then irreparable inadaptability to the
surroundings (deafness, shortsight).
It is this physiological education which prepares for mental
education, by perfecting the organs of the senses and the nervous
tracks of projection and association.
But the other part of education also, touching the adaptation
•of the individual to the environment, is indirectly affected because
in this way we are preparing the infancy of the humanity of our
time. Men of our present day civilization are pre-eminently