The term “Absorbent Mind” was developed during Dr. Montessori’s seven-year internment in India. During this time period Montessori was able to work with older children. This experience helped her to recognize the unique aspects of the 0-6 child’s absorbent mind. The absorbent mind is categorized into two levels. The first level is that of unconscious learning, the period from ages 0-3. The child at this stage is learning through absorption of the environment, as well as through their innate instinctual nature.
The second level of the Absorbent Mind is called the conscious level, which occurs between 3-6. At this time the child becomes physically active in her environment, exploring and pursuing activities with a desire for learning. Another key component to Dr. Montessori’s discovery of the Absorbent Mind was that of the child’s creative nature. “To explain the Childs self construction, Montessori concluded, he must possess within him, before birth, a pattern for his psychic unfolding. ” She referred to this inborn psychic entity of the child as a “spiritual embryo”.
In order for the creative nature of the psychic embryo to develop the child’s horme, or biological needs, must be protected during the unconscious stage. This atmosphere of nurturing will allow the child’s innate creative nature or psychic embryo to develop to his full potentialities. During the two levels of the Absorbent mind the child is able to absorb all things present in her environment. The child will acquire the cultural norms and language of the culture. Montessori used two analogies to describe this period of development, the sponge and the camera.
Dr. Montessori studied many different children, from many various cultures and through her observation she recognized that all these children were undergoing the same developmental process of the absorbent mind. Dr. Montessori went on to emphasize that the power of the Absorbent Mind is universal to all children. In order for the educator to aid the development of the child, she must create a prepared environment. This environment will allow for the child’s free exploration and most importantly the activity of the hands.