Montessori 0-3

"The studies which have been made of early infancy leave no room for doubt: the first two years are important for ever, because in that period, one passes from being nothing into being something." (San Remo Lectures, 1949)

"Others, as a result of careful study, have come to the conclusion that the first two years are the most important in the whole span of human life." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 4)

"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. But not only his intelligence; the full totality of his psychic powers." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 21)

"The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 4)

"During this early period, education must be understood as a help to the unfolding of the child's inborn psychic powers." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 4)

"The child has a mind able to absorb knowledge.  He has the power to teach himself." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 5)

"All that we ourselves are has been made by the child, by the child we were in the first two years of our lives." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 6)

"We then found that individual activity is the one factor that stimulates and produces development, and that this is not more true for the little ones of preschool age than it is for the junior, middle, and upper school children." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 7)

"It follows that at the beginning of his life the individual can accomplish wonders – without effort and quite unconsciously." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 54)

"The infant in arms has far greater mental energies than are usually imagined." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 14)

"Not only does he create his language, but he shapes the organs that enable him to frame the words. He has to make the physical basis of every moment, all the elements of our intellect, everything the human being is blessed with." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 22)

"It begins with a knowledge of his surroundings. How does the child assimilate his environment? He does it solely in virtue of one of those characteristics that we now know him to have. This is an intense and specialized sensitiveness in consequence of which the things about him awaken so much interest and so much enthusiasm that they become incorporated in his very existence . The child absorbs these impressions not with his mind but with his life itself." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 22)

"He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man's intelligence." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 25)

"The child has a different relation to his environment from ours... the child absorbs it.  The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul.  He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes see and his ears hear." (The Absorbent Mind, p.56)

"There is in the child a special kind of sensitivity which leads him to absorb everything about him, and it is this work of observing and absorbing that alone enables him to adapt himself to life.  He does it in virtue of an unconscious power that exists in childhood….The first period of the child’s life is one of adaptation.  It is the child’s special adaptability that makes the land into which he is born the only one in which he will ever want to live." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 57)

"All the social and moral habits that shape a man’s personality …..are formed during infancy, in virtue of that mysterious mental power that psychologists have called “Mneme”." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 59)

"In the first days of life, it is clear that something of the utmost importance is taking place….he has ‘potentialities’ able to bring about his development, and these do so my making use of the outer world." (The Absorbent Mind, p.72)

"The child’s conquests of independence are the basic steps in what is called his “natural development”.  In other words, if we observe natural development with sufficient care, we see that it can be defined as the gaining of successive levels of independence." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 76)

"Once the child can speak, he can express himself and no longer depends on others to guess his needs.  He finds himself in touch with human society, for people can only communicate by means of language.…Very soon afterward, at one year of age, the child begins to walk….So man develops by stages, and the freedom he enjoys comes from these steps towards independence taken in turn…Truly it is nature which affords the child the opportunity to grow; it is nature which bestows independence upon him and guides him to success in achieving his freedom." (The Absorbent Mind, p.78)

"It follows that the child can only develop fully by means of experience on his environment. We call such experience “work”." (The Absorbent Mind, p.80)

"How does he achieve this independence?  He does it by means of a continuous activity. How does he become free?  By means of constant effort. …we know that development results from activity.  The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 84)

"Growth and psychic development are therefore guided by: the absorbent mind, the nebulae and the sensitive periods with their respective mechanisms.  It is these that are hereditary and characteristic of the human species.  But the promise they hold can only be fulfilled through the experience of free activity conducted on the environment." (The Absorbent Mind, p.87)

"….the tiny child’s absorbent mind finds all its nutriment in its surroundings.  Here it has to locate itself, and build itself up from what it takes in.  Especially at the beginning of life must we, therefore, make the environment as interesting and attractive as we can.  The child, as we have seen, passes through successive phases of development and in each of these his surroundings have an important – though different – part to play.  In none have they more importance than immediately after birth." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 88)

"At one year of age the child says his first intentional word…his babbling has a purpose, and this intention is a proof of conscious intelligence…He becomes ever more aware that language refers to his surroundings, and his wish to master it consciously becomes also greater….Subconsciously and unaided, he strains himself to learn, and this effort makes his success all the more astonishing." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 111)

"At about a year and a half, the child discovers another fact, and that is that each thing has its own name." (The Absorbent Mind, p.113)

"It is after this that the child, who can now walk and feels confident of his strength, begins to notice the actions of those about him, and tries to do the same things.  In this period he imitates not because someone has told him to do so, but because of a deep inner need which he feels." (The Absorbent Mind, p.143)

"This kind of activity (climbing, carrying etc), which serves no external purpose, gives children the practice they need for co-ordinating their movements. ….all the child does is to obey an inner impulse." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 148)

"The child in the postnatal (or psychological) period of his embryonic life, absorbs from the world about him the distinctive patterns to which the social life of his group conforms….He absorbs in short, the mathematical part…..the little child’s need for order is one of the most powerful incentives to dominate his early life." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 173)