- Montessorians do not teach language; Montessorians give opportunities to learn it.
- Language is one of the human tendencies.
- The absorbent mind: The brain acquires language subconsciously
- Language can only be learned in a significant and contextual setting. Language exchange has to be meaningful in order for someone to acquire it. That’s one of the reasons why language is not acquired through watching T.V.
- The sounds of baby babbling between 3 to 7 months of age are universal. Every single baby around the world makes the same babbling noises at this age. After 7 months, the babbling noises become specialized or shaped by the region where the baby lives.
- Children point to things because they want to hear the names of all of these things.
- 18 months – 2 ½ years: Children learn 10 words per day. At this stage, their parents and teachers should be talking to them as much as they can, even if the child doesn’t answer, he will answer in the future with the words that you taught them.
Reading before writing:
In Montessori, children learn how to write before they learn how to read. Why should children learn to write first? Reading requires interpretation, while writing is just about what’s on one’s mind, without the complexity of reading and absorbing what inside of someone else’s mind. About 6 months after a child has learned to write, they acquire reading.
Question: What should I do when a child says something to me and I can’t understand him/her? Most of the times, children just want to express themselves. The most important thing is for them to feel valued and appreciated. Nod respectfully and if you can catch a word that they say cling on to that to ask them a question that will invite them to keep on expressing themselves.
Wording to invite a child for a lesson:
Maria, are you available now? I would like to give you a lesson on _____.
Would you like me to give you a lesson?
May I give you a lesson on _____?
Role of the teacher:
- Source of language
- Observer: Unlike most of the Montessori materials, the language materials have fewer control of error. Still, the children should not perceive the teacher as the source of their control of error.* The teacher does not correct spelling.
- The teacher does not correct; but models, shows and uses language in a correct way.
4 precepts or conditions to learn oral language:
- Self-confidence: The Montessori tradition of getting down to a child level to have a conversation with them fosters self-confidence in a child because it shows them that who they are and what they say is valuable.
- Constant exposition them to enriching experiences: Telling them a story, showing them art, or bringing in to class interesting objects from nature.
- Constant exposition to an enriching vocabulary: instead of speaking to children in easy language, expose them to new words and explain them to the child.
- Providing constant opportunities for expression: As long as the limits are clear, e.g. A child can communicate with other but can’t distract or interrupt the concentration of others. “I just want to remind you that we are talking in a soft voice tone, other people are concentrated working.”
Before learning how to write, students need to have a broad vocabulary and to have certain knowledge on orientation: they need to be able to distinguish and name different objects.
Materials that foster orientation and vocabulary:
- A variety of little objects
- A variety of laminated pictures of animals, nature, countries, humans, etc.
“Do you know how this animal is called?” “Do you know what the name of this is?”
“Do you recognized this?” “Do you know what this is?” “What do you know about it?”
“This is an x” Give them tons of info about x. “What colors do you see on this picture?” “What characteristics do you see on this animal?”
Lesson where a child is presented with animal cards:
The teacher presents each one of the cards to the child, asks questions about what the child knows or notices in the pictures and then gives the child more information. The cards with the animals that were new to the child were placed on the table, on a different pile. After she presented all of the cards inside that envelope, the teacher made a 3rd period lesson. She repeats the name of each animal twice and then asks the child more of a certain card or to put it somewhere else. The teacher can also give a description of the characteristics of the animal that she had previously discussed with the child for the child to figure out which animal she is talking about and then pointing to the respective card. Give them the hard clues first and end with the most obvious ones. E.g. -“I’m thinking about an animal, I will give you a description of it and you guess which animal I’m thinking about. I am thinking about a super fast animal, this animal eats meat, this animal has spots.” -”Cheetah!”
General principles Montessori teachers practice:
- Voice tone is always super low and calm: while calling the kids, while having a conversation with them, while giving them a lesson.
- The first child is always a model of behaviour. The most prepared or experienced student always goes first to set up a tone of seriousness and high standards: When a teacher asks the students to do something or when all of the students are presenting something, the teacher picks the most experienced and prepared students to start off.
- Do as little activities as possible with the entire group of students, break them into small groups to keep the engagement of the children.
- In your environment, set up a reading area:
- Rotate books every 2 weeks, if you are exploring with the class a specific topic, display the themed books that you have on the topic. E.g. If you are exploring the life cycle of a butterfly, have all of your butterfly books on display.
- Display 6-7 books at a time.
- Make sure you give orientation to a child before he gives an exposition to the rest of the class. Before a child shares or shows something to the group, practice with him/her 1-1.
- No cartoons are displayed in the classroom. Montessori is based on giving and showing the children reality. A picture is already an abstraction, a cartoon is an abstraction of that abstraction. A cartoon symbolized the symbol of a symbol. Peppa pig is an abstraction of a real pig or of a picture of a pig.
- If a child is not using the material appropriately: “we don’t use the material that way, I’m gonna ask you to put the material away.”
Orientation games and opportunities for expression:
- Give an oral command and if possible have follow up conversations:
- Can you touch the tissue box?
- Place your hand on the trash can.
- Can you find a brush in the environment? -Compare different brushes in the environment, talk about their differences and similarities and about their uses.
- Have them express what they see.
- Have them compare and contrast things.
- Show them objects and have conversations about them.
- Name the parts of the objects
- Ask children what each part does
- Allow the children to express themselves
- E.g. show them a chair and name its parts.
- Share what they did on the weekend:
- Ask: who? what? where?
- Try not asking when? or why? because time is too abstract for younger children to grasp.
- Bringing objects to school:
- Share information about yourselves (both students and teacher)
- Oral art
- Storytelling, books, poems (nature poems: Robert Frost), songs.
Reading to a group of children:
- Try to have 3 children maximum.
- Model reading: read it on your lap and not showing it up in the way that most traditional teacher do. Model for them how you actually read a book.
- Don’t ask questions about the book. The teacher does not want to become the control of error.
Writing is the translation of words into symbols. Before doing any of this, a child should be very strong in oral language. In Montessori, writing is always thought on the child’s first language because sound recognition can only be done when one is very familiar with the sounds of the language.
Pre-requisites to writing:
- Indirect preparations for writing in the Montessori environment include: practical life and sensorial which specifically develops control of movement, lightness of touch and grabing (pincers).
- Direct preparation: Metal insets, white board, moveable alphabet, and Sandpaper letters.
- Logical thinking: this is natural process that can be supported through indirect prep:
- Let children solve problems by themselves: If there is a constant issue with something, the teacher can draw attention to some things, e.g. Showing a child who always struggles with zipping her sweater the parts parts of the zipper and the way to buckle one.
- In Montessori, all of the material is presented in a structured and organized manner. The material is arranged in a logical sequenced and is always organized in the classroom.
Sound box (box with small objects inside):
Pick 3 objects whose names have sound contrast out of the sound box.
Objective: develop identification and differentiation of sounds before exposing them to letters.
In this order, present the following:
- Initial sounds:
- Name the objects pronouncing with great emphasis the initial letter sound.
- “Turtle, ttttttt urtle, TTTTTTTTTT urtle, ttttttt urtle.
- Last sounds:
- Name the objects pronouncing with great emphasis the last sounds.
- Do ggggggg, Dog ends with a gggggg sound, ggg, ggg, ggg, dogggg.
- Middle sounds
2nd period lessons for the sound box:
“I spy with my little eye, an object that ends with a ggggg sound”
3rd period lessons:
“Do you remember our “a” sound, give me words that have the “a” sound.”
- There is no independent work with the sound games. They can work with other kids as one of them models to the rest. It is mostly worked through individual lessons with the teacher.
- The teacher needs to put a lot of emphasis on her mouth movements.
- Break the sounds to their simplest forms. it’s not “pu”, it’s p,p,p,p.
- It’s okay if a child echoes the sounds, but the purpose of this lesson is not echoing but rather sound identification.
Sand paper letters presentation:
Choose 2-3 visually and sound contrasting letters. Present vowels and other frequently used letters first.
Make sure that children are already familiar with identifying the sounds of the letters you are going to present.
“Do you remember the “a” sound? Think of words that have the “a” sound”
“Do you want to see how ‘a” looks like?”
Show the child the sandpaper letter: Outline it with two finders (index and middle fingers then make the phonetic sound of the letter.
Ask the child if he/she would like to try.
2nd period lesson:
“Trace the MMMMMM”, “move the aaa”, point with your finger to a spot in the table while you pronounce a letter.
Further work with the sandpaper letters:
Get a rug out, pick about 3 sandpaper letters and then find cards with pictures and objects and then classify their initial sounds underneath their respective sandpaper letters.
Grab the letters that the child already knows from the sandpaper letters. Make the sounds of them and put them back on their place.
Objective: practice grabbing a pencil and free hand movement. It is not about tracing but about the shapes and forms that children print on their papers.
*This and the moveable alphabet can be done at the same time.
Whiteboard presentation/ Sandbox:
After having had a lesson on the sandpaper letters, a child can then practice his handwriting on a whiteboard. After the child freely practices to write letters on the whiteboard, the teacher can use tape to ask the child to try to write the letter on a more restricted space. This is preparation for writing straight and on lined paper. Children can also write different letters on a sand box.
Writing on paper: Always have the following available: strips of plain white paper, strips of paper with one line, strips of paper with two lines, lined paper.
1st. Write on a strip of paper
2nd. Write on a strip of paper with only one line (“now try to write on one line”)
3rd. Write on a stripe of paper with two lines.
4th. Write on an entire piece of lined paper (not only a stripe, but an entire paper).
More on Writing: Give children opportunities for writing. Children can have a journal with observations of their science experiments. Adults should give the child rich experiences and then ask them to write about them: “Would you iike to write about your trip to the zoo?” “Would you like to write about the shape of your last drawing?”
Reading normally starts 6 months after a child has been working on the moveable alphabet. Teachers should check with the students every 3 weeks because sometimes children can read before the 6 months.
Montessori has the concept of a “whole reader”, a child who not only reads but also comprehends what he reads.
Small box with a pouch with written words and 5-6 objects.
*The teacher’s writing tray is needed.
Get the objects out, grab each object and ask the child to name it and then put the object on the side of the rug or table. Tell the child: “I’m thinking about a word, I’ll write it and you tell me which object it is” The teacher uses the utensils on the writing tray to write the word on a piece of paper. After she is finished, she cuts the paper from the paper stripe and then matches it with each object.
Invite the child to use the material on his own, the pouches contains the written names of the objects for him to match. Let the child know that you will be changing the object and pouches every once in a while.
Single phonetic box:
The teacher writes down commands using the materials on her writing box.
E.g. Jump, get a mat, sing a song.
Show the the box with written commands for further independent work.
Phonetic box phonograms:
Write down their names
Leave the phonograms (1-2 objects) for last: “This is called a phonogram” (phonogram: two letters together make a different sound).
The same day or a day after take the child to the moveable alphabet to practice phonograms.
Get a group of 2-3 students, give each a set of phonogram cards, pick one yourself and share with them your phonogram and the example words you found on your cards. Ask if everyone knows the meaning of the words. Make sentences with each one of the words, ask the rest of the children to go around sharing one word and sentence at a time, and keep on going until no one has words left.
When children make sentences such as: “I have a __”, “I like ______”, ask: “What do you like about ___”, “How does ____ look like?” Make sure that everyone understand what a word means.
Montessori print shop