Understanding the inner workings of a child’s mind is crucial while bringing up a child.


Maria Montessori held that a child’s inability to communicate verbally before the age of one and a half did not indicate his inability to learn. Despite their lack of verbal abilities, infants and toddlers have the mental capacity to learn new things and even teach themselves. Dr. Montessori calls this the “absorbent mind,” which is “at work” in the infant during the first three years. The infant “learns everything without knowing he is learning it, and in so doing he possesses little by little from the unconscious to the conscious, always treading in the paths of joy and love” during this period. Absorbent Mind, page 26

Montessori means this when she says a youngster can learn merely by taking in information through his ears. Since “there is in the child a special kind of sensitivity which leads him to absorb everything about him, and it is the work of observing and absorbing that enables him to adapt himself to life,” children learn through observing and absorbing their surroundings. He achieves it with the help of a hidden strength that exists only in childhood. On p.62 of “Absorbent Mind,” He studies the vocabulary and grammar of the target language. Our proficiency in our Mother Tongue languages is likely attributable to the fact that they are among the first we learn. As the infant develops, he will become more aware of the world around him, and the information he has taken in will be gradually transferred from his unconscious to his conscious mind. The youngster does not become aware of his learning until the conscious stage. Because “a mind different from ours is needed to take that step” and “the child has other powers than us,” the creation he creates is “no small one; it is everything,” the unconscious mind is present only in early childhood. Imbibed Thoughts, p.23 Only a young child has an absorbent mind that makes learning new things simple. Although “no sooner do we become conscious, every fresh piece of knowledge costs us effort and hard work,” this is only true initially. Absorbent Mind, page 26 This clarifies why it becomes more challenging for us to learn additional languages as we age.

Before the age of three, a child learns about his surroundings through absorbing impressions from what he observes, as stated by Dr. Montessori. That’s because, as the author puts it, “impressions do not merely enter his mind; they form it (and) incarnate) themselves in him.” The Absorbent Mind is a tool for building “mental muscles” in young children. Absorbent Mind, page 26 Therefore, a child’s potential heavily depends on the first three years of his existence; if his development is stunted, he will never reach his full potential.

The child’s open mind allows him to take in not only his native language(s) but also everything he encounters. As “the child can only develop fully using experience on his environment” (Absorbent Mind, p.88), it is vital for the parent to expose the child to various experiences. “the first thing his education demands is the provision of an environment in which he can develop the powers given to him by nature,” as the saying goes. Mind that Soaks It Up, p.89 It is essential for parents, and especially mothers, to take their children with them when they go out into the world so that their children can learn from what they see and hear.

Young children listen to everything around them, even when they don’t seem to be paying attention. The child’s information will be saved until he or she is old enough to benefit from it. If we want the infant to acquire a specific language, we can immerse him in a setting where that language is spoken frequently. Because “it is when he hears the full discourse of grown-up people and can see their actions which make their meaning clear, that he grasps little by little even the construction of sentences,” exposing the youngster to isolation will hurt the child’s ability to learn the language. On p.105 of “Absorbent Mind,” Because “the manners, habits, and customs of his group can only be derived from mingling with those who possess them,” it is imperative that parents exercise extreme caution in what they say in front of their children. Imbibed Thoughts, p.102

The child will retain his or her Absorbent Mind until age three. Then, when he can put the knowledge he has stored in his head to use is something nature will determine. The child’s memory, cognitive abilities, and capacity for reasoning will all gradually take shape. Once the infant has mastered these abilities, usually around the third year of life, their conscious mind will assume control. Since “children grow according to natural laws,” no one can predict exactly when this will happen. Imbibed Thoughts, p.93

He will be more aware of the need to work now. Without getting tired, he can learn to read and write. During this time, the act of working itself will serve as motivation for the young person to continue his education. He’s always been curious about his surroundings, but now that he knows what he’s learning, his interest is much more emotional. He is no longer passively taking in knowledge without processing it. For example, the ability to read and write will suddenly become second nature to him because it had always lain dormant in his unconscious mind. His interest in learning is sure to be piqued due to this.

Stella Mak has been a certified educator for almost 18 years and is the mother of twins, so she has extensive experience working with youngsters. [http://www.childrenproblemshelpdesk.com]

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