The early years
In the early years (3-7 years) a child learns more through senses than through reason. The sense perceptions initiate the child’s development. Eg. Suckling- the instinct of touch and taste initiates suckling- then gradually and delicately a child perfects himself (eating, sleeping, dressing etc.) in secret darkness.
Through the strength of learning through the senses, impressions are created. The impressions that are attained via the senses gradually become organised and build up the mind. It is through this hidden labour that a child’s reason develops. The mind therefore gains strength from the memories it receives.
Intellectual progress is therefore achieved by supplying the young, enquiring mind with that which promotes the most progress i.e. kitaabs and learning aids that educate via the senses.
Therefore, our goal in the education of a young child should be to assist in the best way possible in his growth and development. This can be easily attained through material which will stimulate the child via all 4 senses. Once we have offered a child material (kitaab and learning aids eg. Flach cards, charts, stories, activities, etc) suitable for promoting the development of his senses, we should wait for his powers of reasoning and surprising accuracy in judgement to unfold.
What a child’s mind assimilates during the childhood years remains as a permanent acquisition for his entire life, which can never be acquired at another stage. Thus, there are periods in childhood for giving character impressions (honesty,obedience,trust,respect etc)and for fixing habits (cleanliness, order,etc.)which if neglected, can never be redeemed.
In the same way, a young child has a sensitive period of the soul, which develops the religious sense. During this period, the soul has intuitions and spiritual longings. It is a sound belief that little children are endowed with exceptional spiritual insights, which if honed and mentored in its early stages , he will be able to readily absorb the truths of faith which will illuminate his reasoning in later years.