There are many who hold, as I do, that the most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed.”
– Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
The Absorbent Mind: The Toddler and Preschool Years
Dr. Maria Montessori coined the phrase “Absorbent Mind” to describe the child’s most crucial developmental stage: the first six years. During decades of scientific observation, she noted the remarkable sponge-like ability of the child to take in new information.
During two stages of the Absorbent Mind period—from birth to age 3, and from age 3–6 —children soak up information from their environment, learning at a rapid rate. Because the unique capacity to learn in this way—and at this rate—lasts for the first six years of life, Dr. Montessori urged educators to take advantage of this critical stage. During this time, she argued, the impressions made on a child’s mind through lessons and the classroom environment are highly formative and can have a lasting impact on their future development.
Many of Dr. Montessori’s scientific theories are now supported by brain research being done today, more than 100 years later. Based on our own experience over the past 40 years as an innovative Montessori school, we see many of the same benefits every day as children discover the joy and wonder of learning all around them.