“Concentration is the key that opens up the child’s latent treasures within him. As the scattered elements if his personality comes together, order begins to take the place of disorder, and the work of self-construction, which had been interrupted, is now taken up again, as nature has intended all along.” E.M Standing, Maria Montessori: her life and work, pg 174
Learning, by itself, cannot happen without concentration. Whether we are learning to tie our shoes, write our name, wash a car or solve complex algebraic equations, there is intense concentration specific to the task at hand. Dr. Maria Montessori understood the power of concentration, and her methodology is designed to nurture this power. Concentration in infants is a fragile thing. Concentration is broken by the adult trying to shift the focus of the child. Indeed, Montessori said “no one acting from the outside can cause him to concentrate”. As the child grows and enters the Montessori environment (ages 3-6), concentration and attention span increase. In fact, that is an indirect aim of most Montessori activities. Practical Life activities are the cornerstone of the Montessori curriculum which serves the purpose of building independence, improving coordination, and following steps in a sequence. Our modern culture contains a multitude of distractions: video games, computers, television, and any number of sports- or arts-related extra activities. Combined, these can create an overabundance of sensory stimulation. Maintaining calm, controlled, prepared Montessori environment and a clear approach to reducing distractions and sensory overload is an important task of the Montessori caregiver. This directed approach is designed to foster the power of concentration in children, so that they may grow to become happy, independent, and fulfilled adults. Maria Montessori’s first discovery at Casa dei Bambini was Mental Concentration; she observed a little girl of three, working with knobbed cylinders , this most interesting activity of taking the ten cylinders out, mixing them up and replacing them in the appropriate holes. Montessori watched in awe as the child repeated the entire operation forty-two times. Even when the rest of the class began to sing and to march around the classroom, the child remained fully engrossed in her work. Thus, it clearly stated that a child can concentrate best when he is provided with the right kind of material to work with.
Dr. Maria Montessori calls the child during formative period, “a Spiritual Embryo”. During this stage, the child reincarnates due to his psychic and psychological growth; mysterious force that enables a child to grow, teaches him to self-construct. The human being is provided with two embryonic periods. One is pre-natal and another one post-natal. The Spiritual Embryonic period is provided with certain powers. These powers are called non-conscious powers because the child is not conscious of them. The non-conscious powers are Absorbent mind, Mneme, Horme and Sensitive Periods. The Absorbent mind is an unconscious, creative and non-selective process by which the brain takes in everything from the environment, just like a sponge. The child becomes an absorbent mind due to a vital memory called Mneme. It is present only till the age of six years and it incarnates whatever the Absorbent Mind has absorbed. The absorbent mind can be divided into Unconscious Mind from birth to three years, where the child randomly absorbs everything from his environment and creates an impression into his psychic life. A child is a Conscious Mind from three to six years, which is a period of self -construction. However the child is conscious, has a memory and has developed a will.