The Absorbent Mind is the term Dr. Montessori used to describe how a child before the age of six learns and remembers. Babies are born ready to learn from what is around them and they effortlessly gain knowledge from the people and opportunities around them. Children learn through experience and rely heavily on their senses to take-in information.
This is why it is so important that the environment be rich in opportunity and love. A child learns best in an environment of love and trust and will naturally explore opportunity when he is free to do so.
Birth to three months
Everything around your baby is new. They are taking it all in but can get overstimulated easily. Their brain needs time to process all the new sights, sounds, and smells in their new environment. If your baby is overstimulated they may get fussy or fall asleep. This will depend on their personality and how they naturally relate to his world.
Three to six months
Your baby is becoming more aware of the world around them and is awake for longer periods of time. It is important to establish routine for those awake times so your baby can start to anticipate schedule. They will not be able to understand time for years, but you can help them understand and anticipate routine. Plan for the time when they are awake and stick to the schedule as often as possible.
Doing this helps create regularity, predictability, knowledge of their space, and general trust in the world. A child who feels relaxed and comforted by routine uses their calm, awake time to build brain connections.
This is a great time to start a Montessori parent infant class that supports your need to connect with other parents and learn more, and your baby’s need to see other babies, have focussed playtime in a Montessori prepared environment, and the opportunity to become comfortable in a prepared space other than home.
Six to twelve Months
Your baby is now starting to sit and sees their environment from a new position. The continue to take in their surroundings and build their brain from their experiences. You and your baby may be ready to add another class outside of your home. Music classes for babies are perfect to help the two of you connect and meet other families. Babies love music and enjoy watching and participating in playing instruments.
This is a great time to introduce new experiences such as regular walks in the neighborhood, and trips to the market, or even the occasional meal out. It is still possible for your baby to get over-stimulated so pace yourself and remember to maintain your routine.
Twelve to 18 months
During this time you will start to hear your baby’s first words. When and how much a child speaks is very individual. They have been hearing conversation around them since before birth, and now that they are able, they may choose to participate. It takes a great amount of coordination to form a thought and then put the words together to express that thought. Be patient. Modeling conversation and giving your little one time to respond will help them feel supported in their efforts to communicate. Try not to put them on the spot by asking them to tell you or perform. Although they may say a word once, they may not be able to say it on command just yet.
They are still in wonder of the world and want to know what everything is called. They will point to things they want to know. Name the objects and experiences around them so that they can see your mouth move and hear the words clearly. Support their growing brain by giving information in a categorized way. For example; while at the grocery store, walk through the produce department and spend time naming and feeling different vegetables. Then repeat with different fruits. This will help your child start to categorize his knowledge. Download this free set of language cards to use at home.
18m – 2 yrs
Your child is growing quickly, no longer a baby, they move around the house with ease. They learn through experience and they are hungry for knowledge. They will continue to want to know what everything is called and will seek out new physical challenges. Make sure your days are full of opportunity to explore walking trails, meandering through the neighborhood and playing at the playground. All this, while sticking to your routine. Balancing opportunities for physical activity, social interaction, and intellectual challenge, all while satisfying their sense of order, help maximize their brain development.
It is important to help them put their things away as they are finished with them. This helps to create the internal order of their brain. They see the toys clearly displayed on the shelves and now you help them to put each away as they are done. They are learning to help maintain this space. This takes time and consistency and appeals to their natural sense of order.
They will continue to thrive in parent and child classes. They learn from seeing other children meet the same expectations. In a Montessori parent and child class or in a Montessori school they will learn to take care of the environment, prepare food, set the table, and have shared experiences with friends.
Our next post will continue to explain the Absorbent Mind for ages two to six years. It truly is incredible how much they learn in just six short years.