Your baby is busy soaking in all aspects of their environment, language and culture like a sponge using their amazing absorbent mind! Language and the development of independence, concentration and movement are prominent in this phase.
The first plane is characterised by “I can function on my own” and “Help me to do it by myself” and “me do it!” as bluntly put by the younger children. Sensitive periods (areas of focussed learning – tantrums ensue if you try to get in the way!) are the most prominent in this plane. There are eleven different sensitive periods in this plane including movement, language, small objects, order, music, grace and courtesy, refinement of the senses, writing, reading, spatial relationships and mathematics. (We will cover these in more depth in the chapter ‘Children’s Development – 0-6 Sensitive Periods’).
Your child is undergoing great transformation not only physically but mentally and emotionally. The child needs an environment that provides safe opportunities for exploration utilizing all five senses. The child needs the freedom to move and manipulate objects and explore their world. Opportunities for communication and socialisation with family and friends are paramount and promote exposure to language development. It is very important that you surround your child with an environment that is nurturing, offers protection, safety, security, order and consistency.
The young child’s brain is truly amazing – it can soak in knowledge and information like a sponge without even trying! An adult’s brain needs to be taught; a young child’s brain simply absorbs. A baby is born with nothing but survival instincts; for example being able to ‘crawl’ itself to the mother’s breast if placed on the mother’s tummy, but yet within the first few years progresses from simply ‘being’ to walking, talking and feeding themselves – not to mention communicating! The child uses their five senses (touch, smell, taste, feel, sight) to absorb their surroundings unconsciously and naturally without thought or conscious choice – isn’t that astounding!
In the first three years of life, the child’s mind is more reactive than consciously purposeful.
As this amazing absorbent mind takes everything in like a sponge, it is so important that the child is exposed to positive and stable environments. Remember, the child cannot discriminate what they absorb; they will simply absorb everything and so negative adult attitudes or behaviour can impact a child severely causing them to deviate from the norm and develop problems such as attachment issues, ‘disobedience’, low self-esteem and trust issues. You are your child’s number one protector and teacher and also the gateway to what they absorb (gosh – talk about responsibility!).
The second stage in the absorbent period is that from three to six years of age. This stage marks a time in which the child intentionally directs their focus and attention to intellectual development and freedom – they are becoming their own little person. The child refines processes and experiences gained in the first three years, and uses these to make decisions about their environment and the relationships within it, classifying them and consolidating them together in their brain – amazing! All of these processes are still being acquired effortlessly, but are more conscious than in the first stage of the absorbent period. You can help your child in these years by providing them a range of new experiences and broadening their horizons – perfect time for trips to the zoo!
Young children’s brains are not neurologically fixed which allows each child to adapt and assimilate into their own unique environments. Their absorbent mind allows the child to grow and become part of the culture which they are born into. The sheer magnitude of information and knowledge required to simply exist is staggering, and without the child’s ability to collate, sort and retain this amazing amount of data, consciously and unconsciously without effort, the child could not survive. So much going on inside your beautiful child’s head every second of every day- isn’t the human brain amazing!
Take away: Heaps of learning is happening! Allow your little one to explore. Use all the senses, talk, sing and read to your child. Activities such as cooking, playing in the mud and out in nature, safe access to animals and your local community are all adding to the archive of experiences in their brain. The way you connect and interact with and discipline your child now becomes their inner voice. Strategies and alternatives to traditional discipline are covered in my Peaceful and Aligned Parenting course. More brain development, growth and learning happen in this phase than any other. This phase literally shapes the person your little one will become – this time is priceless!
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