Discover Amazing Concentration in Toddlers
"To stimulate life, leaving it free,
however, to unfold itself,
that is the first duty of the educator."
— Maria Montessori
A baby intensely looking at his hands; a toddler looking at a bug with full absorption; this concentration by babies and toddlers is not generally noticed by adults.
Clinging and pushing away; shadowing and darting away; holding on and letting go; these are the most common characteristics by which adults identify a child approaching 2 years of age. He becomes desperate to possess his own selfhood, his body and all its parts inside and outside.
Montessori teachers recognize these characteristics and are trained to step back, observe and respect the great concentration that is miraculously self-creating whole human beings out of these very little ones. Montessorians carefully select and prepare a stimulating environment for the toddlers, and if they are not interrupted, they will focus, “play” and progress with amazing abilities!
There is in a young child of 2, an unconscious mental state which is of a creative nature, and Dr. Maria Montessori called this the “Absorbent Mind.” By merely living, the child absorbs from the environment. A good example is that of how a child learns their native language. The more the parents or caretakers speak with a child, the quicker they will learn the language. If a parent only speaks in “baby talk,” or doesn’t take the effort needed to speak to and with the child, then their child will be absorbed with babbling that language. The Montessori environment is where children are provided with a plethora of opportunities to concentrate, absorb, grow and expand.
Two-year-olds require the use of their hands for concentration. All of the materials in the 2-year-old Montessori classrooms are purposely designed to be handled and manipulated and discovered by the children. Through their hands, the children will experience rough and smooth, hard and soft, liquid and solid, warm and cool.
Children have a deep, inner need to concentrate and discover, not because they are instructed to do so, but because they greatly desire to learn. The hands are directly connected to the mental life of a child. She needs a way to connect her environment with her brain, and her hands are the keys.
Each and every object in the Montessori classroom has been developed specifically to the child’s size, needs and interest. All of these carefully chosen materials are only tools to aid the child in self-construction. In a Montessori environment, the child is given space and abundant opportunity for expansion as she begins her quest for knowledge.
Cynthia Thomas founded her first Montessori school in Brevard County in 1983. She now operates five schools throughout Florida. She discovered Montessori’s unique approach when her children attended a school in Hawaii. She received her masters in education specializing in Montessori from Charminade University in Hawaii.
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