Sensitive Period and Absorbent Mind

What is sensitive period and the environment required for sensitive period At birth the child’s physical development is more or less complete while psychologically it is still in the embryonic state. For this reason Dr. Maria Montessori called that the human being is still a “spiritual embryo” when it is born. “Man seems to have two embryonic periods, one is prenatal like that of the animals; the other is postnatal and only man has this. ” -The Absorbent Mind, p55, Chapter 7. A child possesses an active psychic life even when he cannot manifest it, and must secretly perfect this inner live over a long period of time, it is the spirit of the child that can determine the course of human progress and lead it perhaps even to a higher form of civilization. ” The child will be born with innate potential and creative energy, which helps the child to grow into a unified personality. The child will be born with 8 psychic laws, which unfolds over a course of time. These 8 laws are 1. Law of work 2. Law of Independence 3. Development of will 4.

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Development of Intelligence 5. Power of attention 6. Imagination and creativity 7. Development of Community life 8. Stages of growth HORME  is an unconscious will power the urge the child on to do what he needs to do to aid his divine urge which guides the child and his efforts to their goal. Creative energy guiding the child to absorb from the environment. Up to this every impression is unconsciously stored and absorbed is called Nebula. The development of child into an adult is a long process. For the child to develop into a unified personality, he requires aids.

These aids are of 2 types-Internal and external aids. The external aids are, Dr Maria Montessori concluded that the child must possess within him a pre-determined pattern of psychic unfolding, which is not visible at birth. She referred to them as the spiritual embryo. Montessori believed that for the psychic pattern to reveal itself, two conditions must be fulfilled- First the prepared environment with freedom: After birth the task of the child is to create himself or modify to a unified personality for which he starts interacting with the environment.

The environment that we provide for infants and the stimuli with which we encourage them to interact with this environment are very important for the child’s development. The child needs an environment that is safe, rich in stimulation and is perfectly suited to their developmental needs. He needs to interact with his environment to understand or come to terms with the limit of the universe. Second, he needs freedom to reveal himself. An adult to guide: During the formative years from birth to six, the child has an absorbent mind where the child has incredible capability and power of absorption.

Therefore an adult must provide him with an environment which is carefully prepared for and suited to the child’s need at this early stage of development just as the womb, which is perfectly suited to the child’s developmental needs in the early embryonic stage. Internal aids: The internal aids can be classified as Absorbent mind and the Sensitive periods Absorbent mind: What is the ‘Absorbent mind’? Dictionary defines ‘Absorbent’ and ‘Mind’ as, Absorbent: Imbibing; swallowing; able to soak up moisture

Mind: The intellectual faculty or power; intellect; reason; understanding; inclination; opinion; memory Maria Montessori observed that young children learn in a unique way from prenatal life to about six years old. Since the neonate has to learn everything (he has no tools other than reflexes to survive), but has no language or conscious will to learn the way adults do, he must acquire his survival skills in some other way. Montessori said that the child learns by unconsciously taking in everything around him and actually constructs himself.

Using his senses, he incarnates, or creates himself by absorbing his environment through his very act of living. He does this easily and naturally, without thought or choice. 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.

Mneme is a supreme type of memory, which unconsciously stores impressions, which then become part of the child’s personality. Once these basic skills are incorporated into his schema, 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; freedom to move purposefully, freedom to choose and freedom to concentrate.

His  mantra is “Let Me Do It Myself! ” Sensitive periods:  A child passes through special times in his life when he easily incorporates a particular ability into his schema if allowed to practice it exhaustively during this time. She referred to it as, “Sensitive Periods” a passing impulse or potency. These sensitive periods are critical to the child’s self development. He unconsciously knows that the time to learn a specific skill is now. The child’s intensity reflects his need for that particular acquisition in order to live.

However, once the period passes, he’ll have to learn the skill with much more difficulty at a subsequent time. Adults often do not realize that a child has sensitive periods, perhaps because they do not remember them in themselves. But a thwarted sensitive period will manifest itself in a cranky child. Montessori viewed these “tantrums of the sensitive periods (as) external manifestations of an unsatisfied need. ” The 6 sensitive periods Montessori observed were, 1. Sensitivity to order 2. Sensitivity to refinement of senses 3. Sensitivity to small objects . Sensitivity to co-ordination of movements 5. Sensitivity to language 6. Sensitivity to social aspects of life Schematic diagram of child’s mental development as discovered by Dr. Maria Montessori. [pic] ———————– Spiritual Embryo Prepared environment with freedom Conscious 3-6 Un-conscious 0-3years Mneme Sensitive period Absorbent mind External Internal Aids for self construction Unified personality Adult Long process of growth driving energy-Horme Nebule, 8 psychic laws, innate potential Nebula An adult


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