The Absorbent Mind “The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth. ”- Maria Montessori, The Absorbent mind, Kalakshetra Publication 2010 edition, pg. 2 According to Maria Montessori a child’s potential of learning occurs from birth to six years. The learning takes place in a very amazing and special way. The mind absorbs everything from the environment, and environment plays an important and critical role in early brain development. Maria Montessori referred this important phase of development as the “absorbent mind”.
During this period the brain receives processes and stores everything from the environment without any effort, this form absorption is called the unconscious absorption. Silvana Q Moantanaro, M. D. , says in her book “This intense mental activity is always going on, even in prenatal life, and it characterizes”the absorbent mind”. ” Understanding the Human Being, Pg. 83 From birth a child absorbs the raw material from the environment to learn and survive, he learns the language around him without any difficulty, and he learns to recognize all the people and things around him, he acquires all his basic abilities.
The child uses his psychic force to work his abilities to observe and absorb from the environment. He incarnates or creates himself, using the unconscious absorbent mind; this takes place from birth to three years of age. During this phase, the child works on becoming independent from the adult. He reaches his important milestones of his first year of life by just observing and absorbing. By the age of three he learns to control his body functions, learns to walk and talk.
When this phase is successfully fulfilled he moves into the next phase of conscious absorbent mind, which takes place from the age of three years to six years. At this phase the child perfects himself by using his freedom. He consolidates what he has acquired in his previous phase. He practices all he has absorbed, and masters it. He consolidates without reasoning it good or bad. “…the most important part of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when a man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed.
But not only his intelligence; the full totality of his psychic powers” – Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, Kalakshetra Publication 2010 edition, pg. 21-22 The Absorbent mind is universal; it works the same with children all around the world. From birth to six years, the absorbent mind does not select what it wants to absorb and what not to, the mind observes and absorbs what is in the environment around him. The mind does not take any effort, to the nature of absorbing, it takes place spontaneously. The absorbent mind never rests.
Whatever the mind acquired during this phase becomes permanent as the child grows into an adult. The child incarnates or creates himself from what he absorbed during this period. The absorbent mind of the child cannot be seen until a certain age. A very good example is the development of language, the unconscious absorbent mind absorbed the language right from prenatal period, it continued after birth, around six months the child starts slowly to use just one syllable, by one year he uses one word, but by three he is able to talk fluently with sense, meaning and purpose, knowing where to use nouns, verbs and adjectives.
During the conscious absorbent mind the child develops his vocabulary. He is able to rhyme and relate words. To help the child absorb and learn the language more efficiently, as an adult the language spoken to the child should be rich, bold and should quality and quantity. Listening to the child is very important to build their language skills. The child gains more confidence in The only language men ever speak perfectly is the one they learn in babyhood, when no one can teach them anything! Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, Kalakshetra Publication 2010 edition, pg. 4 During the first six years of a child’s life, as an adult we need to create a suitable environment keeping the child into account. We need to have the faith in the child for the child to fulfill his process in each phase. The adult must apply himself to creating an environment to maximize the learning potential. The child needs to helped indirectly and must be given endless time. It is a mental chemistry that takes place in the child, producing a chemical transformation. These impressions not only penetrate the mind of the child, they form it; they become incarnated, for the child makes his own ‘mental flesh’ in using the things that are in his environment. We have called this type of mind the ‘absorbent mind’ and it is difficult for us to conceive the magnitude of its powers. ” Maria Montessori, Education for a New World, Clio Press Limited, pg. 14