Posted by Roberta Handel
More than 100 years ago Dr. Maria Montessori described “the absorbent mind” of children during their first three years of life as the most critical period in each child’s brain development. Recent research reveals that babies have an innate moral code and make decisions about themselves and others from a very early age. This insight reinforces the Montessori perspective that humans have astonishing mental capacity from birth.
How can parents support each child’s explosive brain development? Become a skilled observer – an expert on your child’s needs. Young children telegraph their needs very clearly. Fortunately, most parents naturally respond to their babies’ babbles and cries, their grasping for things to touch and their urge to explore. Children need to move, to have multiple sensory experiences in order to understand the world around them.
Building muscles is critical to building coordination, which is critical to developing concentration and independence. Let your toddler push, pull, climb, and roll. Let them get dirty. Let them play outside. Let them run and when they fall, pick them up, brush them off, and send them back to play some more. Overreacting sends the message to the child that they need you to protect them. It robs them of the courage to fail and try again. Parents who stress over normal bumps and scrapes and strive to keep their toddlers safe at all costs deprive them of the most natural and critical learning possible.
Curiosity and persistence are character traits that parents can influence in their children in order to help develop resilient, healthy adults. Become an expert on your child’s development by observing and providing a myriad of experiences to meet their demonstrated needs. It’s the best way to maximize individual brain power and give your child a leg up in an uncertain world.