Language in a Montessori Classroom
The Language area in the Montessori classroom is an exquisite program. The exercises we offer for primary children are key to unlocking the various aspects of language that open the door for ongoing explorations. I would like to introduce the area by answering some of the questions I get from many parents:
“How is language introduced in the Montessori classroom?”
Dr. Montessori saw development of language in three main distinct but related stages – spoken language, written language, and reading. Each stage is designed to serve the self-construction of the personality with the ability to communicate at all of the three levels. Each level requires a tremendous amount of internal and external effort on behalf of the child. The combination of this work allows both fluent self-expression and the powerful ability to understand not just words but the very thoughts of others.
“Why Writing before Reading?”
Writing requires three things. First the child needs to be able to comprehend his own thoughts. This is because if they cannot understand their own thoughts they cannot express them. Second, the child needs to recognize the letters. Third, the child needs to analyze each sound in the word in order to be able to write. Writing calls for the expression of pre-existing thoughts while reading demands an interpretation of another’s idea. This is why writing is simpler than reading. Writing is based on the process of the analysis of the sound in a word while reading requires the more advanced skill of blending these sounds to make words, then interpret the word’s meaning. Therefore reading needs even higher mental process of comprehension.
“What can we do at home to help our child?”
Many parents think that because the way children are exposed to language in the classroom with our beautiful materials is so effective, that’s what they must do to help their child. But in reality, attempting to replicate the work done by the child at school in the home may actually have negative consequences such as misuse of the materials when at school, loss of interest by the child for the language area in classroom, and taking away from their natural joy of learning.
Something I always encourage parents to do at home to expand their child’s vocabulary is to use a wide variety of words and phrases in appropriate context. You can also read with and to your child from a selection of good quality books, poetry, and music available for the child in your home. Take your child to your neighborhood library and ask the librarian where the sections of books for your child’s age are, or find books on a subject your child is particularly interested in at the moment. Save some time at the end of the day or during a specific day during the week for reading. If we want the children to maintain their love of books, then we need to put our phones and televisions aside for that time and model to the children that reading is enjoyable. Afterwards, please take the time to converse with your child and discuss what they read in order to share the enjoyment, pleasure, and the many other emotions that come from reading. As you listen to your child, you will also be able to better understand his or her comprehension of the book and you will be able to better help with the selection of books the next time you make your trip to the library. It’s important to provide your child with the chance to speak and converse with you, rather than just to speak at them. We should listen to our children to give them opportunities to express themselves, and so that they know that what they have to say is important.
After three years in the Montessori Primary program, our children leave the environment with the tools to be able to communicate their feelings in complete sentences and in writing. They will also have the ability to write in different styles and about a variety of subjects. Ultimately, we want the children to grow to see the beauty and wonder of language and be able to appreciate its agelessness.
Miss Hanna Kim
Palm Class Primary Head Guide
The important thing for all of us to remember is that language is a power that was given to human beings as an activity of the intellect.