The Absorbent Mind is a beautiful book written by Maria Montessori. I want to share a few main points with you all!
“The greatness of the human personality begins at birth”
(Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind)
What is the Absorbent Mind?
Maria Montessori believed that humans are born with temporary sensorial powers, and they are activated at the beginning of life. These powers have the potential to assist in the healthy development of the human. From birth, the child begins to create her own self-identity. Identity is not instinctual in any child; it is created through growth and development.
There are two Sub-phases within the Absorbent Mind
The Spiritual Embryo and the Development of Consciousness.
The Unconscious Absorbent Mind (Spiritual Embryo) emerges from birth through three years old. The Conscious Absorbent Mind follows from three to six years old.
Maria Montessori states, “Every personal trait absorbed by the child becomes fixed forever, and even if reason later disclaims it, something of it remains in the unconscious mind. For nothing that is formed in infancy can be wholly eradicated”. (p# 65).
1) The Spiritual Embryo:
From birth to three years of age, everything comes very easily to the child. The child is creating the foundation of his intelligence subconsciously. Nature provides the gifts of unconsciousness, thus creating the human personality and brainpower. The child’s task at this time is to build up the conscious through what is absorbed from the outside world. The child will instantaneously absorb whatever is available to the child at the immediate moment. This is an effortless action in totality. An example of this is language, which is absorbed all at one time of a child life, and there is no sequence or discrimination.
Montessori explains the spiritual embryo (2007) as, “A piece of formative work which corresponds in the psychological sphere.” (p#. 55.)
A beautiful analogy of what is going on in a young child's mind is an image of an iceberg. The surface view of the iceberg, although great, is much smaller than what you would see under the surface. The same goes for the child: what she absorbs at a young age is so much more than perceived.
***Note to take home***
From birth to three is when the child is predominantly observing everything that we do. It is our job, as the adult to help the life of the child unfold. We must set positive, loving and graceful examples.
2) Developing Consciousness:
The conscious absorbent mind, is developed during the ages three to six. This enables children the ability to make decision on their own. This is a time when the child’s senses begin to awaken and movement of the body is developed. At this point the children are able to make a conscious choice for themselves deliberately. The child seeks help, only to help them do it on their own deliberately and consciously.
Some examples of these two sub phases are created through:
Movement is sometimes overlooked, however it is just as important to incorporate into the developing mind. The muscular system is one of the main portions of the nervous system; therefore exercising the muscular system through movement is so important in the early years of a child’s life. Movement helps develop the mind.
Language is a form of muscular movement and it is the process of thoughts being expressed through movement. Language is the development of the human intelligence. M. Montessori explains language as a nebular energy (2007), “Thanks to the nebular energy of language, the child begins to distinguish the sounds of spoken language from the sounds and noises which reach him, all mixed together… He can incarnate the language he hears just as perfectly as if it were a racial characteristic.” (p #. 72). The child does not inherit a predetermined language; he inherits the ability to construct a language by the unconscious absorption of the mind. The child’s first words come from the absorbent mind. They are words that the infant has been taking in from birth and over time the subconscious internalizes this word into his memory, finally stating it out loud.
Maintaining an environment that is familiar to the cultural surrounding of the child is so important for the absorbent mind. Young children have an exclusive specific interest in things that are very familiar to what they have already absorbed. With an environment of order and familiarity of ones culture, the mind can focus with great ease.
There are 3 Characteristics of the Absorbent Mind
The Absorbent mind takes in the surrounding environment by what the child sees and hears, creating functions that do not yet exist. The creativity of the Absorbent mind is the construction of the human being. A non-discriminatory thought is that which the child takes in. They internalize this thought by whatever they see or hear without judgment, by accepting whatever is true. The child’s mind does not discriminate good as opposed to bad, they accept all of their surroundings, based on what is available to them.
There are Two Principle Tasks of the A.M.
Self-construction is the way for the child to create and develop himself, while adaptation is when the child adapts to the culture and time period in its own life. It is very important for humans to adapt to their environment.
***Note to take home***
The main role of the adult is to allow your child to become involved in everything possible. It is so important to give your child time and space to internalize all of this new information. The birth of the child renews mankind and he becomes the evolutionary link for our future! It is so important to present the child with enough stimulation in a prepared environment to provide optimal growth. The personality of a child will properly develop from a prepared environment. Maria Montessori states (2012), “The only thing the absorbent mind needs is the life of the individual; give him life and an environment and he will absorb all that is in it.” (p# 52)