Imagine being able to experience every moment using all of your senses; touching an object for the first time, feeling its texture, tasting its surface, listening to each sound it makes, smelling its fragrance…
This is how our young children experience the world during their first few years of life. Everything is so new, and so exciting. Even the simplest things, such as a leaf that’s fallen on the ground from a tree can turn into an hour-long discovery session of pure concentration and admiration. The child may turn the leaf over and over in their tiny hands, inspecting its every crevice and texture, they may even taste it or smell it to really internalize what exactly it is. Every moment is so precious to them. Each new lesson is an exciting opportunity for them to experience the world around them. A child’s mind is extremely absorbent in the first six years of their lives, soaking up every detail like a sponge. They yearn to know everything, as fast as possible.
As adults, it’s important for us to stop every now and then, and “smell the roses”, if you will, just as our children would smell them. We need to take the time to enjoy these precious little moments. Additionally, it’s important for us to allow our children adequate time to enjoy these experiences to the fullest. Take the time to stop and observe your child as they experience new things, and find out what really sparks their interest.
(The butterfly mobile in our Infant Nido, photo taken from the viewpoint of our babies. Although delicate and simple, the contrasting colors invite the child to use their visual senses to study the shapes and the natural movement of the butterflies as they move with the air currents of the room. I sat beside one of our young friends as we studied the mobile together for several minutes, in the hope that I would be able to see and appreciate the work through his eyes.)
Maria Montessori spent a lifetime developing her teaching methods by observing how children learn, and how their young minds interpret the world. She believed in enhancing the child’s spiritual and academic growth, while focusing on their internal well being. Dr. Montessori emphasized the need for the child to use all of their senses while learning new concepts, in order to truly internalize the lesson being given. If we can try to experience and interpret moments just as our children do, we will gain a deeper appreciation for the simple things in life.
(I use my bare hands and feet to feel the surface of the bridge as I walk up and down the stairs, allowing me to fully enjoy this new experience.)
One of the ways that we can understand how our children’s young minds work, is to try to see the world through their eyes, rather than our own.
1. Everything is a new learning experience – absorbent mind
Reiterating the fallen leaf scenario, even the simplest of things can be a memorable experience for a young child. Each new smell, taste, sound, or sight captures their interest and forces them to want to learn more about that particular object. It’s natural for children to ask “but, why?” over and over again, because they truly want to understand everything in their big world around them.
2. Children see the good in almost everything
Children approach each new situation with an unbiased, positive outlook. Their innocent minds are programmed to see the good in almost everything.
3. Limitless Imagination and Creativity
We need to be more open-minded and accepting of new things, in the way that our children are. Their creativity is endless; it’s truly amazing to see what they’re capable of when given the opportunity.
4. Children experience everything using all of their senses
The best way to see the world as our children see it, is to utilize each one of our senses. Treat each moment as if you are experiencing it for the first time. Slow down your daily routine so that you have time to sit back and observe your surroundings.
“Respect all the reasonable forms of activity in which the child engages and try to understand them.” – Maria Montessori