Absorbent mind is defined as the first plane of development where the child has the capability to absorb large amounts of information about his/her environment through his/her senses. The absorbent mind is a universal characteristic of young children. It is unique to the first six years of life. The absorbent mind works unconsciously which motivates the child to seek out new experiences in the environment. It records these experiences in exact details like images that stay with the child for the rest of his/her life.
Child’s mind simply records what it is exposed to.
This is in contrast to the adult brain that stores things more like a painter, consciously choosing what details to include or omit. The adult mind only remembers what it notices or considers important. Dr. Montessori believed that much of the development & formation of a person’s intelligence is from birth to the age of six. Young children’s mind “absorb” information quickly, which enables them to develop patterns for learning and problem solving that will continue to grow throughout their life.
At such a young age, this learning is without effort.
Montessori saw the absorbent mind in two phases. During the first phase, from birth to three years old, the young child unknowingly or unconsciously acquires his basic abilities. She called it the period of unconscious creation or the unconscious absorbent mind. The child’s work during this period is to become independent from the adult for his basic human functions. By about three years old, he moves into the next phase of the absorbent mind, which Montessori called the period of conscious work or the conscious absorbent mind.
During this period, the child’s mathematical mind compels him to perfect in himself that which is now there. His fundamental task during this phase is freedom. Examples of a child’s absorbent mind are language skills, motor skills & social skills. Best example in my opinion, would be child’s learning mother tongue. We set no lessons for our children to teach them how to talk but, by just listening & watching adult’s talk, they gradually learn to speak. By only watching us, as adults, they learn how to act to get our attention and in advanced steps even they get to know expectations of how the world will treat them.
In Montessori classrooms the prepared environment allows children to learn more aspects of real life. For example, the Practical life subject, allows children to not also improve their motor skills but also to behave themselves, to take care of their environment and to treat others. Prepared environment along with the children’s absorbent mind enables them to develop patterns for learning and problem solving that will continue to grow throughout their life.