“The child is a worker and a diligent observer. He looks straight at things; he stares at them for a long time; he is interested in learning all he can about his environment. Perhaps he is staring at a flower, absorbing its image. This work gives him happiness and peace because, in doing so, he is following his natural urges.” ~ Maria Montessori, The 1946 London Lectures

As adults, we all have fond and emotional memories deep within us from our early childhood experiences. Most of us can recall intense relationships with other living things: favorite animals we had and loved, open fields, wild flowers growing on a mountain side, or perhaps the sound of a fresh water stream trickling down the rocks and falling into a lake. Whatever the experience, it renews our ability to perceive as a child; the ability to draw upon those senses and translate the memories. We become aware of living and non-living very early in life. These concepts were deep-rooted seeds that were sown years ago.

The Absorbent Mind

The child is very sensitive to their natural surroundings. Their absorbent mind is taking in all that their  senses experience: the smells, touches, tastes, sounds, and sights that nature provides. The sensitive periods guide their absorbent mind, ordering each of these impressions. They urge them to move within the environment to learn, grasp, feel and know their world.

Quiet Observer

In response to this natural urge, we must allow the child to look and listen as an observer. This will help train the child’s senses, enhance their concentration and help them gain self-control. We adults must not interfere with the experience or hurry the child along. They need time to be thoughtful and receptive, and to digest what they are experiencing.

Sense of Wonder

Children are born with a sense of wonder. By saying, “ I wonder why …” and leaving it at that, we are allowing the child to reach for answers and draw their own conclusions. Be mindful of the information you share with the child. It should be age-appropriate and based on their level of maturity. And if they ask for an explanation, and you aren’t sure of the answer, look for it with the child.

Language Matters

Avoid excessive labeling, however always give the correct name (e.g. “rabbit”, not “bunny”). The language itself will give the child a sense of permanence.

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