Toileting

Toileting is a learning process in which a young child learns how to control their bowel and bladder and use the bathroom for elimination.

Toilet learning is a natural process and should be done at a pace the child is comfortable with. This process cannot be directed and controlled by the adult (aka as toilet training). We must not hinder the child and prolong the process. The adult is not the one who should decide when to start the process because of their own needs. Our duty is to observe the child and know when the right moment is for the child to start.

How do we know when to start? From the Montessori perspective the answer is easy: The toilet learning process starts at birth.

Toileting implies sphincter control and the myelination plays a determinant role in the process. But also, as Maria Montessori said: “the child absorbs and adapts to its culture”. Meaning that the sphincter control can be achieved much sooner than people think. It depends on our culture and whether the adults provide the necessary support.
We can support our child by talking to him about his body parts and its functions when you we are changing his diaper or giving him a bath.

We can support him as well by choosing cloth diapers over disposable. Cloth diapers help babies to feel and understand the difference of being wet and dry. It is important to use 100% cotton underwear, since the child may be more sensitive to temperature and wetness.

The child is ready to use a toilet when his muscles and nerves (sphincters) are properly developed (usually around 12 months of age or when they start walking). Society, however, often promotes timing that is convenient for an adult versus the time at which children are truly capable. History tells us that the more we use disposable diapers, the later children become toilet trained. The New York Times reported, in 1957, almost 100% of the children wore cloth diapers and 95% of them were trained by the age of 18 months. Today almost 95% of the children wear disposable diapers and only about 10% are trained by the age of 18 months. Currently the average age for toilet training is about 30 months with the age ranging from 18 to 60 months.

Every child is different and has his own path of growing and developing. However, there are universal signs that might indicate readiness to begin a transition to his new developmental stage of wearing underwear. Whether you decided to use disposable diapers or cloth ones, here are some signs that help us know when and how to support your child in the toilet learning process.

When your child:

  • Can follow simple directions
  • Is able to sit
  • Is interested in wearing underwear
  • Has curiosity concerning the toilet
  • Is able to stay dry for 2-3 hours
  • Seeks privacy (hides) when urinating or having a bowel movement in the diaper
  • Verbally expresses that he is wet and wants to be changed
  • Is able to pull his own pants up and down

We want to make sure that our ‘toilet-ready child’ is dressed for success, which means wearing outfits that he can get in and out of easily. Hence we need to avoid buttons, belts, and other fasteners he might have trouble handling by himself. Even if he has the dressing skills to unbuckle and unzip and manipulate other clothing closures, he shouldn’t have to fuss with them at the same time he’s trying to get settled on the toilet. Avoid overalls, onesies or pants too tight for the same reason.

We need to give the child independence on the levels they can handle (size appropriate toilet, clothing, reminders…). The space where the child will learn to use the toilet has to be consciously prepared by the adult. Remember that the toilet should be located in the bathroom, not in the kitchen or the living room or the patio. We do not want to confuse the child about how, when, and where we use the potty.

The basic items needed in this process are a:

  • Toilet (child size or adapted)
  • Sink and Stool
  • Soap and hand towel
  • Basket for dirty clothes
  • Basket with clean clothes

The adult must collaborate with the child by both observing and modeling. We need to show the child where the potty is as well as how to sit and use it. As adults we must also be aware of the different diets that can help the child have more comfortable bowel movements.

Toileting is a learning process for children. It is important use positive language when we talk to the child about the learning process of using the toilet (no punishment or reward system). Some children train themselves in a few weeks while others need months. Some children show readiness as soon as 12 months while others start by the age of 3 or later. Regardless of the age we start, the process needs to be low-key but straightforward. As parents and educators, we need to commit to the whole process that involves lots of laundry, mopping floors, and wet carpets.

Maintain a positive attitude and your child will be toilet-trained in time 🙂

By Nuria Serrano

The Importance of Learning New Languages

“Once the child can speak, he can express himself and no longer depends on others to guess his needs. He finds himself in touch with human society, for people can only communicate by means of language. Very soon afterward at one year of age, the child begins to walk….So man develops by stages, and the freedom he enjoys comes from these steps towards independence taken in turn…Truly it is nature which affords the child the opportunity to grow; it is nature which bestows independence upon him and guides him to success in achieving his freedom.”
– The Absorbent Mind, p.78

One of the sensitive periods Maria Montessori focuses on is language. No matter how complicated a language can be, a child will learn it if it is spoken to them during this sensitive time. In our Spanish Immersion classroom, I only speak Spanish to the children. They begin to copy the sounds and words until they are fluent in the language. It becomes necessary for the children to learn the language spoken around them so they feel that they are part of their community. Children are eager and excited to learn and communicate the new language. A sign of their readiness is when they begin to ask the names of various objects in Spanish around the classroom. Soon after, they will begin teaching other children the names in Spanish. This demonstrates their desire to further assimilate themselves into the classroom.

Singing songs is a great introduction to the new language. By being expressive with hand motions and facial expressions, the children come to understand the song whether or not they fully understand the language. When a child first starts in the class, there are many songs and simple conversations to learn. Little by little I teach them the names of the objects around the classroom. This will help the child understand his environment and set himself up for success.

Through extensive research, it has been proven that the earlier a child is introduced to a second language, the greater the chance that the child will master both languages. Teaching your child a second language can provide them with more skills to succeed in the future.

By Katia Ledon

Freedom with Limits

“The child is the spiritual builder of mankind, and obstacles to his free development are the stones in the wall by which the soul of man has become imprisoned.”
– Maria Montessori

Freedom by definition is the ability to do whatever you want, whenever you want. The difficulty lies in realizing exactly what it is that you want, and then knowing what action to take to achieve your desires. Freedom in a Montessori class gives the children the opportunity to choose materials by themselves; materials that are made in accordance with a child’s size requirements.

Freedom with limits is an important and necessary tool for future learning because it allows the children to build their sense of responsibility, self-discipline and independence.

The limits in a Montessori classroom are enforced in the prepared environment. These limits include respect for others, care of materials, walking slow, a soft tone of voice, carrying one thing at the time, not interrupting friends when they are working, helping others, cleaning up if water/food is spilled and much more. Freedom is always connected to limits since with freedom comes responsibility. In order to be responsible, one must be informed of what is expected of you as well as knowledge of how to complete the task. Our primary task as educators is to encourage and help children learn how to complete tasks on their own so that they can truly be free in their environment.

“We want to discipline to the activity. Not to passivity. We have to show the child what to do. An education method based upon freedom must help the child to conquer, and must guide the child in the path to independence.”
– Maria Montessori

Some ways to create a prepared environment at home include providing child sized tools for eating, cleaning and playing, as well as setting up a smaller table and chair for them to do their ‘work’. You can ask your child to complete specific tasks while still giving them freedom by giving them 2-3 choices. Children can be invited to help with simple household tasks such as to carrying a basket with their clothes to the laundry room, fold kitchen towels, and brainstorm tasks to be completed daily, ex. daily shower, bedtime … It is important to describe the tasks in great detail so the children have a clear understanding of what is expected of them.

An important limit we must always consider is the collective interest. We are often limited in our actions when we ponder the outcomes these actions can have on other people. In a prepared environment that provides the possibility to act free, the child will acquire the self-discipline and self-control to allow them to grow with responsibility of their own actions and decisions.

“Only through freedom and environmental experience is it practically possible for human development to occur.”
– Maria Montessori

By Katya Saab

Montessori Materials Flow

Primary to Elementary, Concrete to Abstract

Inspired by Aristotle and John Locke, Dr. Montessori believed that nothing could exist in the intellect that did not first exist in the senses. One of the hallmarks of Montessori education is the elegant materials, designed to lead children from concrete to abstract representations of a variety of ideas.The Primary materials, which are self-correcting and introduce the child to basic concepts like numeration, phonetics, and geometric shapes, also facilitate the transition from Primary to Elementary, both in terms of curriculum flow and in helping the child situate herself in a new environment.

On the child’s first day of Elementary, she will walk into the classroom and see many of what Dr. Montessori referred to as “old friends.” Having used many of the materials already, the child experiences an immediate sense of familiarity with her new environment. She will encounter and use many of the materials she used in Primary, but at a higher level. The pink tower, for example, is in the sensorial area of the Primary classroom, but on the geometry shelf in the mathematics area in Elementary, where it will be used to study the concept of volume. In this way, the Primary child’s work with the pink tower is indirect preparation for her later work with operations on volume. All of the materials, in fact, that the child works with in Primary are direct or indirect preparation for her work during the Elementary years; the materials can be viewed as a bridge linking the different levels of the curriculum.

The geometry materials offer a useful illustration of how a child works with the same materials, yet on entirely different cognitive levels, in both Primary and Elementary. A sensorial material at the Primary level, the geometric plane and solid figures are explored in a variety of ways. Circles, squares, triangles, and other polygons are manipulated in order to feel the difference between straight and curved edges, obtuse and acute angles. In metal inset form, the polygons are carefully traced, promoting coordination and fine motor control as preparation for writing. The constructive triangles material encourages the child to form new shapes by placing two or more triangles together. Two triangles, depending on which kind, will make any number of different quadrilaterals; six equilateral triangles will form a hexagon. Concurrent with manipulation and other sensorial exploration, the Primary child learns the names of the polygons and solids.

Fast forward to the Elementary years, where the child will encounter the same materials, but on the geometry shelf in the math area. Although the child will continue to manipulate the planes and solids, he will begin to study them from a mathematical perspective as well, identifying and measuring, for example, types of angles, bases, altitudes, and diagonals. He will learn how to measure perimeter and area of polygons and volume and surface area of solids. The child is able to explore these properties on an abstract level thanks to his emerging power of reason—one of the “sensitivities,” or distinguishing characteristics of the Elementary-aged child (this transition congruent with the observations of Jean Piaget).

Dr. Montessori wrote much about the “sensitive periods,” or natural dispositions that children have toward certain activities during specific times in their development. While the Primary child can distinguish, sensorially, between a square and a rectangle, the Elementary child, in the sensitive period for reason and abstract thought, can conceptualize and articulate, for example, why all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. And while the Primary child knows that two triangles placed together form a rectangle or other quadrilateral, the Elementary child, because he has learned to measure angles, can also extrapolate that since the sum of any triangle is 180 degrees, the sum of the angles of any quadrilateral, formed by two triangles, must be 360 degrees, or 180 X 2. It is a short leap from here to begin the formal study of geometry theorems, part of the upper elementary geometry curriculum.

The materials lead the child from sensorial exploration to abstract reasoning in a carefully designed and stepwise sequence that spans the Primary and Elementary years. And while the Primary child who moves on to a non-Montessori setting for the Elementary years will still have gained some knowledge from her sensorial work, the Montessori child who has worked with the full spectrum of the materials, from Primary through Elementary, will have gained not only more knowledge, but a more thorough understanding of complex ideas in mathematics, language, science, and more.

By Cindy Conesa

The Montessori Three-Year Cycle and the Importance of the Third Year

The three-year multi-age Montessori classroom is not an arbitrary configuration of convenience, but an implementation of the “planes of development,” or four distinct periods of growth: 0-6 years; 6-12 years; 12-18 years; and 18-24 years. Dr. Montessori, along with other developmental scientists, observed that the child’s development follows a path of successive stages, each with its own particular needs and dispositions—cognitive, social, physical, moral and emotional; and much occurs during each plane as preparation for the succeeding one. It follows then that the more fully the child realizes his potential in each plane, the stronger the foundation for the next stage of development.    

Each plane is divided into two sub-planes, on which Montessori classrooms are based (0-3 years; 3-6 years; 6-9 years; 9-12 years; 12-15 years; and 15-18 years). Montessori teachers are trained to meet the child’s needs with a three-year developmental curriculum oriented to the inherent characteristics of a particular plane. The curriculum, like development, is sequential, and by completing the three-year cycle in an environment specifically designed to address her developmental needs—whether in Primary, Elementary, or Secondary—the child’s possibilities for working toward her potential are maximized.

Given “normal” development, most children will reach the milestones of a given developmental phase within the appropriate time frame, but as children do not all develop at the same rate, some will reach specific markers sooner or later than other children. This is one important reason why Dr. Montessori grouped children together in three-year spans: all are working toward the same developmental goals characteristic of their respective plane. The third year in a Montessori classroom can be thought of as the “capstone” in this respect; literally the “finishing stone of a structure,” it is also the “culminating academic experience for students.” This is truly where all the pieces come together, where the child’s learning is solidified, his knowledge consolidated, as new possibilities for growth and learning begin to emerge.

The third year in a Montessori classroom is also referred to as the leadership year. It can be helpful to think of first year children as the “explorers,” second year students as the “experimenters” and third year students as the “experts.” Having learned to take care of herself in the classroom and to work independently during the first two years, the child in her third year is developmentally ready to put her background to use as a classroom leader–an academic and social role model—while she continues building her own skills. This increases her self-confidence which, together with her good work habits, puts her in a position of readiness for her upcoming experience in the Elementary classroom.

Of course, all children go through the same developmental phases whether or not they are enrolled in a Montessori program. So what are the advantages, having completed two years of Montessori Primary, in completing the third year rather than moving on to another classroom setting? The answer lies in the “sensitive periods” characteristic of each developmental plane—the natural dispositions that children have toward certain activities during specific times in their development. Dr. Montessori designed her elegant materials to directly correspond to the sensitive periods. During the Primary years, for example, the child is sensitive to order, concentration, coordination, and independence; everything in the Primary environment addresses these sensitivities. As the older child is sensitive to reason and abstract thinking, the materials in the Elementary classroom become less and less concrete. Further, the Great Lessons are meant to appeal to the older child’s burgeoning imagination.

What sets Montessori education apart from many other approaches is that the child is able to independently seek out and find the particular stimuli to satisfy his needs, as dictated by the sensitive periods, and to develop mastery of related skills. In this way too, with guidance, he takes ownership of and responsibility for his learning—an opportunity not found in traditional school settings.The third year—the year of consolidation, leadership, and readiness for the next phase—is of paramount importance to the child’s optimal realization of possibilities and development and, as such, should be regarded as a crucial step in the Montessori educational process.

By Cindy Conesa

Positive Communication with Children

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We hear about ineffective communication all the time, and many of us have experienced it directly at one point or another. Communication can make or break relationships. It can lead to failures or successes in the work place and can create or clear up misunderstandings. Communication is a skill that takes practice and is a work in progress for children and adults alike.

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“What Did You Learn Today?” Encouraging Dialogue

Compiled By Ms. Aja

A million things, great and small, have happened since your child came to school, so when you ask “What happened today?” they may be overwhelmed.

As a parent, you must feel frustrated when you ask your child what they did at school today and they reply “nothing.” As a Montessori teacher, I’m even more frustrated when I hear my students give that same response to their parents. I want to say “What do you mean you did nothing? We worked like crazy all day long!” Parents come to the teachers asking what their child was doing all day in the Montessori classroom because they can’t get them to share their own experiences at home.

Let’s analyze both the question and the responses. First, when we ask our spouse or our friends “How was your day”? They respond with “fine” or “ OK,” and elaborate as they feel the need.

On the other hand, children need more direct questioning. They are developing the art of communication, and therefore need to be guided through the process. Let’s start asking questions that require more than one word answers.

What was the worst/best part of your day?

Children often reply that they did nothing all day because they are so busy ‘learning and doing,’ they don’t realize that what they are ‘doing’ is important. After all, Maria Montessori said that “play is the work of the child.” It is only natural then, that they feel that they are working and doing their jobs. Learning that “M” sounds like “mmmm” as in mouse, mat, mug, match, and muffin or learning that the square root of 36 is 6 is just what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s not momentous enough to them to attach daily significance of good or bad.

Asking your child what the worst and best part of their day was makes them stop and reflect back and analyze their day. Maybe the best part was being the line leader or getting a lesson on the Africa map and Land and Water forms. Maybe the worst part of their day was not having Spanish, or spilling their water at lunch time. Whatever it was, surely it was important enough to make an impact. As Montessori parents and teachers, we need to use active listening skills and respond in a way to encourage more conversation. Here is an example:

Mom: “What was the best part of your day?”

Child: “When I dropped the addition tile box.”

Mom: “When you dropped the tile box? How was that the best part of your day?”

Child: “Well, because Suzie came over and helped me pick up all the tiles and put them back in the box. Afterward, she helped me roll my mat and asked if I wanted to work on some science together. We had a lot of fun and we sat beside each other at lunch.”

Mom: “It must have felt nice working with Suzie. I’m glad to see you are making new friends.”

From the parent’s perspective, dropping the tile box and having to pick up all the pieces does not sound like the best part of any day. However, from the child’s point of view, it was the catalyst that started a series of positive events.

This is a good thing to do at the dinner table. As you’re eating, go around the table and each family member can tell the worst and best parts of their day. If you ask for the worst parts first, then you can end on a positive note.

What did you learn today?

“Can you tell me three things you learned today?” is a simplistic question, but requires a complex mental process to answer it. The metacognition to recall three things learned out of all the many other happenings during the day is difficult. It requires thinking back to lessons and extracting exact information.

With younger children, you may decide to ask them to tell you one thing. Or ask more specifically, “What did you learn in Geography today?” Not only does this focus your child on what they learned in school, but it shows them that you are taking an active role in their learning and education.

To find out exactly what happened in your child’s Montessori classroom, ask direct, rather than vague questions. You’ll soon find out that your child is really doing a lot of work, and you’ll be pleased with the increased communication between the two of you.

 

That’s Not Fair! Moral Development in the Second Plane

The second plane of development is sometimes called the birth of the social personality. In the Montessorian framework of development, each plane can be considered a rebirth, in which certain aspects of human nature are brought out and undergo critical periods of development. Some very prominent changes are the growth of language and the onset of puberty in the first and third planes of development, respectively. In the second plane of development, there are a number of features undergoing significant growth, and they produce certain psychological characteristics common to this plane.

One very prominent characteristic is moral development. I’d like to focus on this characteristic, because interestingly enough it is also recognized across many different cultures and religions. That is, in law and in many different religions, ancient and modern, there is normally an age when a child is deemed responsible for their actions. It normally happens at the end of what Montessori would call the second plane of development, and sometimes earlier. (So, around 12 or 13) Also, we observe it on an almost daily basis.

The child between the ages of 6 and 12 is constantly working out what is fair and what is not fair, what is right and wrong, and who is and who is not responsible for this or that situation. In fact, many times something happens because of circumstance, or accident, and the child wants to infer that someone was to blame. This is because they are working out their own moral compass, and developing a sense of right and wrong, and developing notions of moral responsibility. Sometimes things which are not moral considerations – like is it right or wrong to wipe my hands this way – become objects of intense moral scrutiny!

The child is learning what it means to interact with other people, and what it means to be responsible for their own actions. As they undergo this developmental process they will be using their peers and adults as benchmarks. It is therefore important to cultivate in them a willingness to think about moral questions on their own, and also to act how we say we will act. A child at this age will notice immediately if we say we ought to do one thing, and then we do something else. This also creates confusion as it establishes a disconnect between moral prescriptions and practical actions. Of course, no one is perfect, and it is very hard to try and live up to all of the moral standards we set for ourselves. And in any given situation we may be pulled in any number of directions.  Yet, a child at this age is acutely aware of these conflicts, and so they keep the pressure on! This makes it important to do our best in modeling the behavior we want to see, and explaining our actions where appropriate.

We also should try and help the child reason independently, as it is easy for children to go too far in using adults and peers as benchmarks, and not to think through moral questions on their own, which is much harder to do. This poses difficulties for adults as well, as they also need to help the child develop a respect for the wisdom gained through years of experience and tradition, while allowing a space for the child to become their own free and independent moral actor, who can take responsibility for their actions, and question the world around them. If a child is always following an order, or doing what others do, it will be hard for the child to understand when they are responsible for their own actions and to develop their own sense of morality. If I have only a teacher to serve as my conscience, and only a book to serve as my understanding, then I do not have the chance to develop my own abilities in these domains.

It is of course important to guide them in these areas, but it is also very important to give them the space necessary to work out social conflicts on their own, while keeping a close eye in case one has to step in to prevent emotional or physical injury.

This is also why, at around six years old, children become very interested in fairy tales, science fiction, and stories about good and evil. Moral dramas appeal to the developmental process they are undergoing at this age. And many times, when thinking about these stories, or when involved in a conflict, the moral dilemma’s the child poses will not have easy answers. Adults themselves are still working many of these problems out. It is ok if we don’t have all the answers, and it’s important to let them know about the complexities of moral decisions by asking the child questions, and getting them to think about their own moral reasoning. By posing questions instead of immediately giving answers, we help the child think through moral problems independently. This will further inculcate a desire to learn and to discover, and more importantly it will help them become comfortable with conflict resolution among peers in situations without easy answers.

And so, although this age can be a frustrating age at times, as it is rife with social conflicts, complaints, protests, and reports of unfairness, it is important to view these actions as a process of development, and as necessary growth pains in the child’s life. It doesn’t mean that the child isn’t listening, or that we aren’t making ourselves clear, or that they don’t understand the feelings of others, it means that the child is repeating these behaviors to gain a better understanding of them, often unconsciously, as they grapple with the nature of right and wrong. So, the next time your child yells, “That’s not fair!” try taking it as an opportunity to question them about why they think that.

 

 

Montessori from My Perspective

I will never forget my first visit to a Montessori classroom when my son was 3 years old. I could literally feel the enormous respect for the children displayed in the beauty of the environment and the conscientious attention to detail. Small vases of flowers were on the tables, tastefully chosen works of art hung at the children’s eye level and the children were happily and calmly working both independently and collaboratively. I didn’t understand how this ‘method’ worked, but I knew it was the answer to my long journey to find a school for my son. At the time, I didn’t know it was going to also change my life!

Montessori classrooms are prepared environments for children of multi-ages meeting their unique and varied needs. The furniture is appropriately sized, the materials available on low shelves for easy access to the children and the layout of the room is warm and inviting. This preparation gives the children what they so deserve which is the freedom to find work that has a range of ability levels from very sensory materials and practical living skills to complex language, mathematics and cultural explorations. There is never a shortage of materials to engage any child. The mixed age range in the classroom allows the children to be both student and mentor. The younger children look up to their older friends modeling on their mature behavior and excellent language and motor skills. The older children have the opportunity to teach their younger classmates both through use of classroom materials and from their broader understanding of social cues. Nothing in the classroom is put there by chance. Each guide (teacher) is a keen observer who recognizes opportunities to introduce new work to a child ready for just that lesson. The magic is in the match! Each guide leads a child to maximize their potential socially, physically and cognitively.

Current thinking indicates that Montessori is an incredible experience for the very young child and it is, but can those same concepts of independent, hands-on learning be applied to an elementary and middle school level? The simple answer is yes! Montessori children become vested in becoming competent, confident individuals who want to make a difference in the world. They learn to become friends and supporters of their classmates in a calm, yet vibrant setting. There is great deal of research indicating that children who are participants in their educational journey will be more creative in their careers and have a sense of belonging becoming global citizens. Many researchers are now aware of what a difference a Montessori Education makes. Montessori children learn to collaborate, to think independently and to pride themselves on work well done.

The Montessori children that I had the honor of knowing in my long and most satisfying career as head of school became partners in their educational journey. They became active participants in their education, not passive receptacles of information. How much more satisfying to feel a part of the learning process.

A high school honors English teacher came to visit me one day and asked if she could observe our students. I asked why and she told me that she had 8 of our graduated students in her honors class and they were different than the other students. I was intrigued and asked for more. She told me that they went beyond what was required in the work. They kept asking for more depth, but she also recounted how respectful they were with the other students and interacted with her as a collaborator. They set an example and raised the bar in the class.

One always wonders what makes the difference in the life of a child. I believe I found one thing that makes a difference – Montessori.

Mary Ellen Kordas

Mary Ellen Kordas is a former Montessori school head, current American Montessori Society Board Member, Leadership Faculty at Seton Montessori Institute, Chicago and CMTE, New York, but most importantly she is the grandmother to two of our Kinderhouse students.

Language in a Montessori Classroom

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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.

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“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

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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.

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