Discover the Child

Discover the Child
"There is a tiny light in the unconscious of mankind which guides it toward better things." "We must follow the child, but we must follow the child as his leader." -Maria Montessori

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Montessori Language Crash Course

Even if you are not setting up a Montessori classroom, I hope an introduction to Montessori language materials will help inspire opportunities for language development you may provide at home. If you are setting up the classroom, I'm excited to share ideas for materials with you.

The first introduction to language materials is real images or replicas. While holding and looking at the object, repeat the name, then pass the object to the child. Repeat the name as the child holds the object. We know that language is linked with sensorial impressions. Also, children learn new words when it is paired with her name or at the end of a sentence.

Create other opportunities for introducing new vocabulary during every day activities. Name produce as you hand it to your child to place in the grocery cart, name types of clothing as your child helps you place it in the laundry basket or washing machine, and give accurate names for types of animals, plants, objects, road signs, or breeds of dogs you find outdoors.

Replicas- Birds
Kitchen Utensils

 The next introduction is objects and exact matching images. After naming the objects during a presentation the child places the objects on a work mat (neutral colored placemat or small rug) or table. Next, you'll ask the child to find an object and place it back on the tray. Holding the cards in hand, ask the child to choose a card. The child places the object on the card, with some prompting, if necessary. An image that matches the object exactly is a concrete representation for the child that the two-dimensional image represents the three-dimensional object. After matching all of the objects, ask the child to find each object and place it in the basket to encourage recall. If, at any time during a presentation, the child finds a different object than the one requested, merely state, "You found a squid, can you find the jellyfish?"

Replicas and Matching Cards- Sea Animals

 After a child is comfortable with the materials, she is ready to explore objects and similar images. Objects in a set fit a classification. Ideally, the relative size of the objects is accurate and the objects are as realistic as possible. Some of these objects may seem obscure, but the theory of Lexical Diversity explains that learning vocabulary aids in overall language development.

These materials also offer other indirect learning opportunities. In a group lesson, a toddler has an opportunity to practice waiting and sharing objects. In an extension of the lesson, we may place the objects across the room and ask the child to bring a specific object, exercising memory and recall. Children absorb information about the general characteristics of each classification and learn to identify objects with subtle distinctions.


Breeds of Dogs

Real Objects and Matching Images- Pasta

I usually place nine sets of language materials on the shelf every two weeks. We store each set in a large ziploc bag and place the bags in the cabinet. This is also an effective way to store and quickly replace toys at home. Keeping a limited amount of toys on a shelf allows a toddler to successfully care for his materials, avoid visual clutter that causes fatigue, and to help him make sense of his environment. 

Remember that background noise is an obstacle to language development. Infants and toddlers cannot easily distinguish language from background noise. It is very important to eliminate background noise such as radio and television at home during waking hours whenever possible. At school, the teacher must be sure not to run loud air conditioning units or fans during the work cycle.

I hope you are inspired to create new opportunities for learning language!

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