The Absorbent Mind


  • 0-6 infancy: age of transformation
    • 0-3 child absorbs environment
      • home environment and family most important
      • needs: love, security, routine, order, movement, exploration, stimulation
    • 3-6 age of activity, experience
      • child absorbs social group
      • needs: school environment, purposive activity, positive social experience, order contribution to environment and group
  • 6-12 childhood: age of abstraction
    • stability, robustness
    • needs: peer group, organized social groups (ie. Scouts), adult sounding board for right/wrong/injustice, cosmic education
  • 12-15 adolescence: age of adjustment
    • sensitivity, irregular growth, caught in-between
    • needs: encouragement, religious study, humanities, physical activity to gain coordination
  • 15-18 maturity: age of developing stability
    • experiences and influences last, abstract love for others, responsibility
    • needs: job/money, parents as guides, friends


Universal principals which guide development. Consider and encourage:

  • gregariousness
  • work
  • independence
  • repetition
  • exploration
  • exaction
  • curiosity
  • calculation
  • orientation
  • concentration
  • order
  • movement
  • communication
  • self-control
  • abstraction
  • perfection
  • creative imagination


  • 0-6 child ABSORBS ALL
  • Child’s mind acts like a sponge, integrating everything accurately, non judgementally, uncritically, effortlessly.
  • 0-3 absorbent mind functions unconsciously. 3-6 function consciously. Child takes in the environment through the senses, movement and exploration, and ADAPTS.


Transitory periods during which the child acquires a certain characteristic. Child’s attention is drawn irresistably to certain elements. Once the characteristic is acquired the sensitivity disappears.

  • LANGUAGE: Pre-natal to 6 1/2+ years. Needs: clear articulation, proper use of language, creative use of language, show/teach love of reading/communication.
  • ORDER: 1 – 4+ years. Needs: routine at home (stay flexible!), order in home environment.
  • SENSORY REFINEMENT: 0 – 6+ years. Senses are gateways to perception. Child learns classification thru matching, grading, categorization. Needs: sensory exploration. Play with color, shape, texture, sound, taste, smell. Give language after experience.
  • SMALL THINGS: 2 – 3+ years. Child fills in his BIG PICTURE with the details. Needs: Explore the tiny things in the world. The insects in the grass, designs on a tree trunk, patterns in a leaf, blossoms. Small details in a picture, shades in color, design in fabrics, little
    toys and objects around the house, go on a tiny treasure hunt on a shelf.
  • SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: 2 1/2 – 6+ years.
    Child explores, absorbs the group and social behavior. Needs: modeled acceptable social behavior at home and in a positive school setting. Natural consequences for improper behavior, ie. removal from group nucleus if behavior is unacceptable. Calm, graceful, pleasant care.

Suggested reading:

  • Montessori: A Modern Approach, by Paula Polk Lillard
  • The Absorbent Mind – The Discovery of the Child, by Maria Montessori