A child & its absorbent mind

A child & its absorbent mind

A Child and Its Absorbent Mind

Absorbent Mind is an occurrence formed and defined by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early twentieth century in children up to the age of six enabling them to absorb knowledge very quickly and easily.  The Absorbent Mind she had observed does not compose with a willful effort, but is done according to the guidance of the inner sense which is called sensitive periods.  The outcome is a child with a senseless state that is of a creative nature.  The child creates not only language but also means and this is not done by the conscious mind but by the will free unconscious mind.

The first of Montessori’s four periods of development begins with the birth of the child and extends to around six years of age. However Montessori recognized two further sub-periods within this case, distinguishing the ages zero to three, and three to six. The unconscious Absorbent Mind of the zero to three year old is classifying and distinguishing objects and activities within his environment, concentrating on what is necessary for building the psycho-embryonic construction. There is no limit to the facts and knowledge he can take in, but order is necessary and the adult actually has no influence over this child’s learning other than not to obstruct his eyes and his hands. The unconscious mind of the child achieves his wonderful work of creation, through sensitivity that resembles visually, naturally marking impressions in fine detail. The infants first three years, through the unconscious absorbent mind the child takes in sounds, intonation, words, grammar and sentence structure to acquire language.

At age three the child’s absorbent mind begins to transform from unconscious to conscious. As the child begins to choose actions for himself, a conscious intelligence begins to develop, demonstrated by his increasing ability to choose actions independently.   The mind of the three to six year old are still operating through the tendencies and psychological characteristics found in the younger sub-phase, but the ability to choose activities for himself is the mark of an exciting new period. Montessori also observed the child of this age venturing around his environment in search of more knowledge. She even noticed occasions when the five and six year old would be drawn to the elementary classroom to feed this thirst for more knowledge. Also, through the absorbent mind’s preparation to adapt, the child takes in all information that is presented to him without questioning or criticizing. She describes the young child’s mind and personality to be soft like a wax. She goes on to explain that if adults put anything on top of it when it is soft it leaves an impression that cannot be removed after the mind has formed in that spot.

So the child at this age, with a fragile but powerful mind, Montessori stressed the need for the child to be in an environment in which his tendencies can continue to operate. These include exploration, orientation and believed a proper facilitation of these characteristics and tendencies, present from birth, could be attained.

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