How The Children Learn

The use of the materials are based on the young child’s unique capability, for learning, identified by Dr. Montessori as the ‘absorbent mind’ In her writings she often compared the young mind as a sponge. It literally absorbs information from the enviornment. This process is evident in the way in which a two year old learns his native tongue, without formal instruction and without the conscious effort ,which an adult must make to master a foriegn tongue. Recieving information in this way is a natural and delightful activity for a young child who uses all his/her senses to investigate his/her surroundings.
The child retains this ability to learn by absorbing until almost seven years of age. Dr. Montessori taught that the child’s experience could be enriched in a classroom where he could handle materials which would demonstrate basic educational information to him. Over sixty years of experience has proven her theory, a young child can learn to read, write and calculate in the same natural way that he learns to walk and talk. The Montessori equipment invites the child to do this at his own periods of interest and readiness.

In ‘The Absorbent Mind’, Dr. Montessori wrote,”The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but rather the first one, the period of birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement is being formed. Not only his intelligence, but the full body of his psychic powers. At no other age has the child greater need of an intelligent help, and any obstacle that restricts his creative work will lessen the chance he has of achieving perfection.”

Recent psychological studies based on controlled research have confirmed these theories of Dr. Montessori’s. After analizing thousands of such studies, Dr. Benjamin S. Bloom of the University of Chicago, wrote in ‘Stability and Change in Human Characteristics, “From conception to age four, the individual develops 50% of his mature intelligence; from ages four to eight he developes another 30%…” This suggests the very rapid growth of intelligence in the early years and the great influence of the enviornment in early development.Through Montessori’s experience, she found that the young child’s absorbant mind usually lasts about six years, a period she observed to be split into two three-year phases.