Sometimes adults look to children as if they are an empty vessel that needs to be filled with the world’s wisdom. Montessori believed that wasn’t the case, that they grow through their “inner teacher, inner impulse”. Our jobs as teachers is to create the environment, to make this space for the child to develop their own unique pathway of learning.
At birth, a human baby is virtually helpless, and yet in only a span of two or three years the baby goes from basically being inert to running and dancing, from crying and cooing to chattering and singing.
Children’s brain creates language – whatever language they hear. A newborn is completely unable to stand or walk but all they need is to practice, they must create movement by building up their muscles and coordinating motions and balance in order to roll over, sit, and crawl. At this stage, “it is not a question of development, but of creation from nothing”. It’s amazing to think that at this First stage, 0-3 years old, the child is an unconscious learner.
At times we want to help the child and we assist them, but as Montessori said if we help too much and do things for them then we are “unconsciously suppressing and repressing their energies.” Each child is unique and that’s the amazing thing about this program and especially this age group that we are able to meet the needs of each child in their developmental stages that they are at. Some things are still very predictable, even though each child is different we still know that there are certain milestones they are going to hit.
The child naturally has the power to unfold their own self. I’ve heard the analogy of a child being like a flower seed. They have the potential to grow and become this beautiful daisy that they are destine to be but it is up to us to help them get there with the water, soil, and care. If we can assist with these things then the child can show us who they are.
We have come to learn about the Absorbent Mind, a concept that Montessori taught about the child taking in all that they are presented. During the first half of 0-3 it is a unconscious development where the child truly doesn’t pick or choose what they want to learn or what they want to store. They take it all in, positive and negative. Once they start to reach the period of 3-6 then they are conscious learners that choose as to what they want to do or not do. They begin to develop more self-mastery and self-control.
A child’s brain is rapidly growing and ever changing, making billions upon billions of connections. At this stage, there are about 100 million neurons in the child’s brain. The synapse in the brain is the connection point between two neurons, an adult brain has about 300 trillion of these links and the child’s brain that is developing has a quadrillion connections.
But these quadrillion connection are during the first plane of development, or their first six year of life. Each moment of eye contact and each new word that is exchanged, every time we make them laugh we are strengthening these connections.
Making Eye contact is essential to a child's life. A child's mind tends to wander since it is eagerly absorbing everything around him/her. When talking to your child, make eye contact and lower yourself down to them. You will see much difference than when speaking to them behind their back or as you're walking away.
It is during these years that they are making as many connections as possible, then their brains start to get rid of the ones not used and strengthening those that are being used. This process continues throughout our life. But since a child’s life is activated by EVERYTHING it encounters it can also be overwhelmed.
Even though our brains can change throughout our these early years are fundamental for a strong foundation for children to develop curiosity, creativity, and adaptability.
We need to make sure to have a balance to not overly or under stimulate a child’s brain.