“It may be said that we acquire knowledge by using our minds; but the child absorbs knowledge directly into his psychic life. Simply by continuing to live, the child learns to speak hi s native tongue. A kind of mental chemistry goes on within him. We, by contrast, are recipients. Impressions are poured into us and we store them in our minds; but we ourselves remain apart from them, just as a vase keeps separate from the water it contains. Instead, the child undergoes a transformation. Impressions do not merely enter his mind; they form it. They incarnate themselves in him. The child creates his own mental muscles, using for this what he finds in the world about him. We have named this kind of mentality, The Absorbent Mind.”
– Maria Montessori
In 1939, as Dr. Montessori was working in India, she learned that children under 6 years of age had a ‘Special Mind’. Through her observations at that time, she noticed that children learn their native language simply by living in their environment. They learn this through the help of this special mind. The impressions children receive during this time period that belong to human speech, she noticed, make a stronger impression on the child than other impressions. To develop this language from nothing required a special kind of a mind. A special kind of an intelligence. It is like a sponge absorbs water. Also such as a camera taking pictures where everything is captured in the photo. This also helps the child develop movements. This has helped mankind tremendously in his process of evolution as he acquired walking on two feet according to Dr. Montessori.
Montessori started studying human developed and noted that 90 percent of the child’s neurons developed before he turned 3. These neurons help him develop in a special way as a result of the environment and experiences of the child. The experiences of the child during this period helped this process so that the unlimited potentialities that the child has at birth may be actualized in a particular manner. In the first 3 years, the child is described as a ‘psychic embryo’. The child does not just thrive but makes progress because of this special mind. Until this time, the child has an ‘unconscious mind’. By 3 years of age, a more ‘conscious mind’ starts to form. This is the beginning of a conscious memory. By 6 years of age, this starts to turn into a ‘reasoning mind’.
This special mind of the child at birth and till 6 years of age, helps the child undertake the enormous task of constructing himself. He constructs his mind until it starts to turn into memory and develops the skills needed to succeed through the different phases. The sensitive periods and tendencies, inherent in him, aid him to master these skills.
“Our work as adults does not consist in teaching , but in helping the infant mind in its work of development”- Maria Montessori (The Absorbent Mind).