Dr. Maria Montessori revealed to the world that the child from birth through age six has an absorbent mind. Not everyone may know that Montessori divides the absorbent mind into two phases. She says that in the first phase (infancy to pre school) the child’s mind functions at the unconscious level. In the second phase, or preschool stage, we see the mind as functioning largely from the subconscious level. This explains why young children are creatures of feeling, rather than reason, and why they act on impulse. Finally, when a child turns seven it is said that the child has reached the age of reason, meaning that he is able to function as a conscious, rational being. Still, he has a long way to go before he can function as autonomously as the adult, as his life experience and knowledge base is far less than that of an adult, and the child has much more to learn.
With the exception of the impressions a child may have absorbed while in the womb, the child comes into the world knowing nothing. The mind begins forming from this base. The unconscious mind has vast space with which to take in, or absorb, an inconceivable amount of data. The unconscious mind of the child will absorb any amount of information it is provided and will do so without a single thought or attempt to discriminate or screen the data, regardless of content or value of the information. This explains why young children must be protected from unwholesomeness and shielded from negative vibrations, and why we want only positive surroundings for the child.
The impressions and information that the young child absorbs FORM the mind, including the character and the personality of the individual. It is crucial that order, beauty, harmony, symmetry, love, joy and peace surround the child and that he not be exposed to violence, profanity, discord or parental argumentation. The child will absorb whatever feelings and behavior patterns he comes in contact with. Dr. Montessori points out that it is the healthy mind that will solve the problems of humanity, not the mind that deviates from that norm!
Since the television has become more vile and violent with the passing of time, a baby or young child should not be in a room where there is a TV playing. The fact that a child is innocent does not diminish the fact that it will take in the violence, vileness and profanity presented in a TV program. Parents have little, if any, control over program and advertising content or what will be absorbed by the mind of the child, which is everything the child is exposed to. Today’s pediatricians are recommending that young children not watch TV at all.
Studies show that preschoolers behave more aggressively than usual in their play after watching any high-action or exciting television content, especially after watching violent television. Furthermore, there is disturbing evidence that TV RADIATION impairs child brain development.
Parents need to take a look at rock music and popular music, also, in relationship to the absorbent mind of the child and ask themselves if they really want what is expressed in the adult lyrics and jagged rhythms of much of this, so called, music streaming into the baby’s mind and molding its consciousnessforming its attitudes and shaping its world view and philosophy of life. On the other hand, it is the best of CLASSICAL MUSIC that babies thrive on, which is stimulating, uplifting, harmonious and beneficial to the mind and total being of the individual. For instance, BAROQUE LARGO music has been shown to improve mental functioning and accelerate learning.
Finally, we might take a look at how to positively work with the absorbent mind and aim at developing it to its best advantage. Flashcards are one of the best ways of providing valuable information for the baby’s absorbent mind. Flashcards are easy to use with infants because the infant is really the most captive audience. He stays put –until he gains mobility. Plus infants enjoy the stimulation of being shown flashcards. And babies especially love the interaction with mommy and daddy.
The Alphabet Song
To prepare a child for reading begin by singing the Alphabet Song and reciting the alphabet soon after the child is born. The Alphabet Song names all the letters of the alphabet from A to Z. Sing the Alphabet Song for the child, over and over again, and recite the alphabet whenever you have the opportunity or feel inspired.
By the time the baby has heard this song and recitation, several times, he will begin to have a burning desire to know what A, B, C, etc. is all about. When you show the alphabet flashcards the baby will look intently, as the song and recitation will have sparked a great interest. You can then show ten or more (or less) flashcards at a time depending upon how long it takes you to present them and the attention span, or interest, of the baby. (Go here to read more about presenting flashcards.) Two or three times are all you need to show the alphabet flashcards to the child with periodic review for reinforcement and retention. Continue singing the Alphabet Song until the child grows older and can sing it with you, and continue to sing it with him. When you are sure the child knows the song by heart, ask him to sing it for you, and ask him to sing it for you from time to time.
READING PREPARATION IN INFANCY