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The Development of Language


The Development of Communication and Language in a Montessori community.

When was the first word spoken?  What do you think was the first spoken word?  Was it a noun or an interjection?  All children have the innate ability to develop a language.  What language they acquire is dependent upon the culture or the environment which surrounds them.  Through the children, language is passed on from generation to generation.

Dr. Montessori observed that children have a thirst for language and communication.  Communication allows the child to express her needs and ideas to others.  Through language we are able to cooperate, collaborate, receive knowledge and pass knowledge to others.

Children go through a series of stages to acquire language.  They begin with auditory discrimination and quickly move to speech and vocabulary development. Eventually, the children develop symbol and sound recognition which leads to reading.  Dr. Montessori observed a very special time during which children from as young as 3 months of age to age six have a special sensitivity for the development of language.

The development of vocabulary sets the stage for pre- reading and reading skills. Giving your toddler the names of real or concrete objects, reading books, talking with your toddler helps your child develop their vocabulary.

Vocabulary development continues in the primary community (ages 3-6 years) with activities that help the children develop understanding of their community.  The sandpaper letters, sound games and lessons in the practical life and sensorial area help prepare for reading.

The phonetic material allows the children to practice reading that is meaningful and fun.  They explore phonetic reading, phonograms, the grammar material, and word study.

Once they have the mental and physical preparation, children are introduced to the mechanics of writing and letter formation.  The mental preparation is through the understanding of the symbol or letters/sounds that make up words.  The physical preparation begins with the materials that help develop the pincer grip, hand and wrist strength when tracing shapes.  Eventually children work with a pencil and begin to perfect their control.

As the children’s imagination explodes in the elementary classroom, the materials are extensions of the primary classroom.  These fun activities help them develop stronger language skills in reading, writing and vocabulary so they can experience total reading – clearly understanding the author’s words.

The fourth great lesson, Communication with signs, stirs the imagination and gives meaning and importance to language.  This story explores how written and spoken language has developed.  The children enjoy exploring picture messages – Phoenician images, Greek and Roman writing.

The lessons of reading - phonetic reading, phonograms, grammar work and word study; lessons of writing - various writing opportunities from research to letter writing; the integration of language with other areas of study - how does language compliment other areas of study; and Literature – the books and literature available to children for research, reading and study, together make up the elementary language materials and lessons.

The child is in his or her sensitive period for language development from birth to age six.  The Montessori materials work with the child’s natural stages of development and assist them with their acquisition of language.



Image credit: Montessori for Everyone blog

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