What is the Absorbent Mind?
“The child has the type of mind that absorbs knowledge and constructs itself.” -Maria Montessori.
The Absorbent Mind is like the camera. What the child takes in during the absorbent mind in Montessori early education is taken in effortlessly and remains as the foundation of his or her personality.
Dr Maria Montessori presented this fundamental concept to the world more than a hundred years ago from her initial observations of children learning and developing.
The absorbent mind is a stage of development that occurs from birth up until six years old, during the first plane of child development.
As per Dr. Maria Montessori, during this stage, the child possesses higher wisdom/ psychic power that helps the child to be spiritually guided and to make sense of the world around them. Through this understanding of the outside world and the absorption of knowledge during the absorbent mind in Montessori, the child is then able to construct their personalities accordingly so that they can better adapt to the world that they live in.
How does the absorbent mind contribute to a child's development?
“This absorbent mind in Montessori early education does not only take in language and reproduce it. It absorbs all that makes for the culture of the country and creates the native, the man of the time and place.” - Maria Montessori, the Absorbent Mind Montessori Education.
Every child learns to speak their native language, yet no one sits with them with a book in their hand to teach how to speak. If you have tried to learn a foreign language later in your life, you know it is not so easy. Yet every little child does it effortlessly. How? Through the absorbent mind. In the process of child development, children are taught in their early phase of building an absorbent mind in Montessori education to gulp down the information around them and keep it protected in their memories.
The development of the absorbent mind in Montessori education occurs from a stage of ‘unconscious absorption’ that progressively and gradually results in a stage of ‘conscious development/construction.’
Maria Montessori described this process of the unconscious to conscious development, to being a ‘psychic embryo.’ The embryo takes full form once it reaches conscious development. The conscious development happens when a child reaches their potential stage of building an absorbent mind in Montessori early education.
How does a child use the absorbent mind to adapt to life?
The absorbent mind in Montessori early education assists your child to learn about the external world and environment around them. This knowledge guides your child to know the relation between what is learned in the prepared home environment they are in and how it relates to the world around them that is an integral part of the child development process. This is important because it allows your child to have a clear idea of what is an absorbent mind in Montessori education and why certain activities are practiced and things function in relation to the outside world.
Take, for an example, how an absorbent mind in Montessori education develops your young child or toddler, the habit of using cutlery when they eat. When they go to a restaurant with you and notice many adults using the same, they gain a broader understanding of the use, need, and importance of using the cutlery.
Another example is if your child or toddler is learning about musical instrument names in language. These instruments can also be classified according to the country or continent where they come from. In this way, your child gains broader knowledge of an activity or game but also understands its historical and geographical importance. Part of such learning is taught in the classes of developing the absorbent mind in Montessori early education.
In the child development process, the absorbent mind also helps the child adapt to life by providing the building blocks to development that are later used to consciously construct the self.
Imparting the knowledge of developing an absorbent mind in Montessori education occurs through a process of ‘assimilation and self-construction.’ As the child normalizes everything it has absorbed, its innate sense of inner order is refined which leads to the child development of spontaneous discipline and a wider sense of independence as your child grows older.
At birth, the spiritual components of an infant that will make him/her into a person are not yet formed or in existence. As a result of this, the new-born baby goes through a form of spiritual incarnation following birth that allows the baby to integrate itself slowly into its surroundings through an unconscious process of absorption and assimilation. This process is, quite clearly, a part of the child development process, known as integrative adaptation that the child will only experience once in their lives. This enables the child to adapt to the environment they are born in.
Unique Characteristics of the Absorbent Mind:
Biologically Timed and Universal
The absorbent mind is a sensitivity that all children possess and arises through sensitive periods during specific times during their biological development. These sensitivities can be said to be universal in the way that allows the child to subconsciously absorb new information from their environment. When the child is sent to an educational institution, they are especially given the training of dealing with sensitive things, such special training is provided in the classes of developing absorbent mind in Montessori early education.
Totality of Impressions
It is through the biologically timed and universal absorption that the child can absorb all the impressions related to what it is exposed to into their child development process. In the first plane of the absorbent mind in Montessori education, the child moves from a place of unconscious absorption to a place of conscious construction by completing tasks that cause him or her to repeat activities that contain all the impressions they are absorbing. The child practices these activities repeatedly until they become fully conscious and self-constructive.
During the first plane of the child development process, between the ages of birth to six years old, the child has no sense of conditioned morality yet. Instead, a child finds that he or she lives without an impression or a comprehension of the differences between good and wrongful behaviors. Only during the second plane of development does the child’s sensitivity to wrongful and righteous behavior begin to develop into a conscious construction. During this time, known as developing the absorbent mind in Montessori early education, the child is also very curious and asks a lot of questions related to the senses of morality that they begin to develop within them.
Let's take these most constructive, 0-6 years, of a child’s life very seriously and make a conscious effort to use the phenomena of the Absorbent Mind in our children to reach its best potential.