A Child’s Mind (part 2)

As we discussed in our last post, the Absorbent Mind is the term Dr. Montessori used to describe how a child younger than sic learns and takes in information. To learn more about the two years of life, refer to this post. Here, we pick up with two years and older.

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2-2.5 yrs

If you have been practicing in a Montessori parent and child class or in a Montessori school, your child has probably internalized the order of setting the table. They set the table with ease and understand how to sit and enjoy a meal with others. An important part of their social experience, they can participate in preparing food, setting the table, serving, and passing food at the table.

Your child is also starting to understand the order of the day. You have been consistent and now you see how they enjoy this comforting routine and may even start to anticipate the next part of your routine before you even realize it’s time. They love their routine and may start to keep the order in your home. They have seen their toys neatly placed on the shelves since they were an infant and now they participate in putting activities away.

This internal order is now reflecting the external order that you provide in the environment.

2.5-3 yrs

This is an amazing time in development and is usually when most children want to demonstrate how much they know about their environment. Your child will like to be in control of their environment and needs choices whenever possible. They will demonstrate this by leading the way when they feel comfortable in a familiar environment. When it comes to a new environment, your child may be shy and timid or quite boisterous and energetic. It will depend on their particular personality.

Children who are cautious may need a little time to warm up to new situations. In this situation, you may comfort your child and let them know you are there, but try to let them stand on their own feet and feel grounded in their own space as they take in the new experience.

For children who are less cautious, help your child to pause in-between activities, this may mean taking a break in a different space from time to time, by walking out of the room, or having a hug. This will help to recenter their energy as they get excited about new experiences and people. 

They are now becoming aware that they are learning new things. In Montessori, this is called emerging consciousness. With a new consciousness around learning, they start to make conscious choices. Before now, their choices were informed by instinct and urge. Now they are informed by knowledge. A child that has opportunity to choose in their first three years can now move into making conscious choices with ease and confidence. 

If they have not had opportunity to choose for themself before now, making choices can be overwhelming, lead to tantrums, or just keep them from choosing at all. If this is the case, start with allowing your child to choose from two things that are low risk; “would you like to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt?” As they gain experience and practice, they will gain confidence and independence in this area.

3 to 4 years

Your child is capable of so much! They can pick up after themself, they can have a conversation, and they can express ideas and opinions. This is a sign that they are conscious of their surroundings. They are aware that they are learning and that learning can be fun. They like to play games, particularly memory games. This is a great time for them to test what they know and learn to keep a list of items in their head. 

Their mind develops along with the body so movement is essential as they learn. Ask them to help gather produce at the grocery store or put dishes away from the dishwasher. When they do this, they use their mind to remember and their body to transfer the ideas they hold in their mind.

Your child is speaking in full sentences and paragraphs by now. They get excited and want to share all they know at one time. Help them to take pauses and learn the art of conversation, where we pause to see what others might contribute.

They ask what? and why? Although you may have heard why from them before, it is now that they truly ask for the meaning behind what they have learned. They now are a conscious learner and their study takes a turn toward investigating. 

four to six years

Your child’s mind is still categorized by the way they can instantaneously take in information and remember it. However, they may now be more selective about what they want to learn. They may have preferences and opinions about what is interesting and fun. It is important to remember that they need continued exposure to new learning experiences in order to gain a deeper understanding of the world.

For example, if your child loves trucks, there are many wonderful books to read and museums and construction sites to visit. It will also be beneficial to your child if you visit art museums, zoos, and farms. They will learn that all of these places also have trucks, and much, much more.

Your child will probably like playing board games now. Here are some of our favorite games for this age:

One game that you can play any where is I spy. Here is how you play: 

Look around and find something within your field of view that your child knows the name of and will recognize. For example, your blue laundry basket. Say, “I spy with my little eye something that is blue!” Encourage your child to look around and ask you questions until they have discovered of what you are thinking. Continue to take turns. This is fun at home, the park, a waiting room, or just about anywhere!

There is so much to learn and your child is learning it effortlessly. It is a great time to take advantage and teach your child new skills, introduce your child to a vast vocabulary, and if possible a second language.

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