Have you ever wondered how children process information? Do you know that a child is learning and receiving impressions even when he is in his mother’s womb?
When children are born, they come into this world with potential. In order to maximize this potential, Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori Method of Education, identified two innate qualities that help the child to develop. These are namely the Sensitive Periods and the Absorbent Mind.
Today we will be focusing our attention on the Absorbent Mind. The absorbent mind explains the process in which the child gains knowledge from his environment.
It can be divided into:
- Unconscious Mind (0-3 years)
- Conscious Mind (3-6 years)
From birth to 3 years old, the child has an unconscious mind that has not completely formed yet. As the child has no knowledge of his environment in which he can build on, his learning starts from nothing. It is the Absorbent Mind that allows him to absorb impressions from the environment unconsciously. The knowledge the child absorbs unconsciously prepares the child’s mind and in time it will be used by his conscious mind. Thus, as parents, how can we support your child’s learning and development at this stage? It is important to constantly interact with your child and spend quality time with them. The more the child interacts with his parents and his environment, the more he would be able to draw from this reservoir of impressions which will turn into information in the future. For example, in a Chinese-speaking home, the child at the Unconscious Mind stage will take the sounds (impressions) that he hears from this environment and all these will turn into words in the future (information).
From 3-6 years old, the child has entered the Conscious Mind stage. This is also a period of self-construction and the child continues to absorb knowledge. Previously, in the child’s first stage of life, the child simply absorbs the world through his unconscious intelligence, merely being moved about in it, but now, he takes it in consciously. He now learns differently- through his hands, activity, and movement. The child’s learning in the stage of the conscious mind is incredibly fruitful if there is a rich foundation of experiences previously created in his unconscious mind. Some things that parents can do to support the child at this stage is to engage them in hands-on activities. Remember to allow your child to work at their own rate of speed- this is very much necessary to their growth and development.
Maria Montessori’s discovery and understanding of the child’s absorbent mind is very valuable. As educators and parents, it is our duty to recognize that the child’s mind is very different from our own, and find ways to help the child to use this amazing absorbent mind to his advantage.
To learn more about the Montessori Method of Education, check out our Grab-and-Go series on YouTube.