How Lanugage is Encouraged in the Montessori Nursery Class Essay Sample
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How Lanugage is Encouraged in the Montessori Nursery Class Essay Sample
A Montessori nursery classroom is a prepared environment for children from the ages of 2 1/2 to 6 years of age. The classroom contains only materials that respond to the developmental stages of a child from 2 1/2 to 6 years of age. There are no toys as the Montessori materials fulfill the various needs of the children at all stages. Lessons/presentations are given only when the child is ready. Generally lessons are given individually, however some lessons are given in a small group setting. Before a lesson is given the child must have successfully completed any preparatory lessons. If the concepts of the preceding lessons have not been absorbed then the probability of success will be minimal.
The lessons are very purposeful, specifically catering to each stage of the child’s development. The children work according to their choice and capability and no comparisons to children of equal age are made. The Montessori environment contains self-correcting materials. The child’s self-esteem is protected since the adult does not have to do all of the correcting. Self-esteem grows as the children discover they can do things the correct way by themselves.
Children freely choose work in the classroom, responding to internal needs and working individually for the most part. Individual work encourages independence; once a child has been presented with a lesson they are free to use it when they desire (if it’s not being used by another child). The children are encouraged to repeat lessons as many times as the child wishes, so that the concept is completely absorbed. A child will not necessarily receive a new lesson every day, as time and repetition, as well as concentration, observation and discussion, are essential for the complete creation of the child.
Children are encouraged to respect the work of others; not touching, distracting, or disturbing other children who are working. Having only one of each lesson in the classroom helps the children respect others work, be patient, and to be proud of their own accomplishments. The children are also expected to respect their environment. They are shown where lessons are found on the shelf and how to replace them in the correct manner. Older children help with replenishing supplies on the shelves and cleaning up at the end of the day.
We are careful of how we display the children’s work in the environment. It can create bad feelings/competition amongst the children, and encourage children to complete work for the sake of praise and recognition from adults and peers. It’s crucial to help children realize that the process is what’s important, not the end product. Work done by the child is for the child and not for the parent. The Montessori environment is created for the child to work according to their inner needs, for the construction of themselves. There is nothing more painful to watch than a child struggling through a page of printing because “mommy told me I had to bring a page home”.
Children are encouraged to dress themselves and be responsible for their own belongings. Children need to wear clothing that they can manage in order to allow them to be independent. Asking permission to go to the washroom, to the water fountain, or to repeat a lesson is not necessary. The environment has been created in a safe manner for the children, and they are aware of their own needs. Respect for the child. We will allow them to retain their dignity at all times. Greeting and dismissing the child with a handshake and eye contact encourages the use of grace and courtesy. Showing affection to children is essential to their sense of security and emotional growth. Invariably, there is a great form or order, freedom and independence in such a prepared class. Montessori nursery classroom comprises of several different areas; Practical life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics and Cultural. And lessons are given in three formats: Class presentations: meetings, games, music, movement, stories, and poetry Small group lessons: small groups of children gather for a common lesson Individual lessons: Tutorial, remedial and accelerated work
Language lies at the root of that transformation of the environment that we call civilization.” It is developed and refined all through the formative years of a child. Language has it rules, order and formation. Although, from birth, the child absorbs sounds all through the ages of zero to three years unconsciously, This helps in the development of speech in the later ages of three to six years because the child must naturally hear the sounds in use among its class or environment retain in his mind and reproduces it as sound. The sound heard through the environment provokes the areas of the nerve cell or centuries in the brain, called Cortex. Two of these are primarily involved, one being concerned with hearing of speech (a auditory receptive center) and the other with the production of speech, of the movements required for vocalizing the words. One of these is therefore a sensorial center and the other, the motor center. This development is respectful of the absorbent mind and the sensitive periods. It reflects that each child still has to go through all the stages of development, at a Montessori nursery class, materials that aid the process of language are provided. The child has the freedom to work with any of the material and thus engages in activities that capture there interest. The continuous use of this material develops the child confidence, concentration, order and logic.
All these components characterizes a child developing in such environment and at the end, they are more civilized and will be able to express himself sufficiently in a larger community. Language is the ability to understand speech and a desire to convey one’s feelings and thoughts. The learning of language is truly the child’s most remarkable intellectual achievement, and is amazingly accomplished rapidly in a very short time span. “By merely living and without any conscious effort the individual absorbs from the environment even a complex cultural like language.” (The Essential Montessori, pg. 81). Since the child builds himself from what is around him, the environment becomes an important factor. The environment must be prepared, aiding in the process of language development and supporting the child’s expanding consciousness. How a child learns to speak and understand the spoken word is a mysterious process. As long as a child is exposed to some language in his/her early life, he will almost always learn to speak. We don’t entirely understand why, but we know this to be true absent certain complications. She will learn the vocabulary that she is offered. We can do much to enrich these offerings, to give the child a greater wealth of words at her command, but we cannot make her learn to speak but rather we prepare the right environment to learn and develop language.
But the same cannot be said for writing or reading. These, we teach.
Writing and reading require instruction of some sort and require some degree of effort by the child. She must exert herself on the components of our language to build it for herself. She must mount each of these steps:
Step 1: Spoken Language: create an internal dictionary and practice using the words in it Step 2: Phonetic Awareness: learn the sounds within words and the sounds/symbols of our alphabet Step 3: Creating Words (Writing): learn to put those sounds/symbols together to make words Step 4: Reading: Learn to decode those sounds/symbols to decipher words
In Montessori classrooms, there are two primary pedagogical materials used to teach children the sounds that each letter makes and how you can put those letters/sounds together to create words: the sandpaper letters and the movable alphabet. The sandpaper letters allow children to physically trace the shape of each letter while they say its sound, not its name. The movable alphabet allows them to then put those symbols/sounds together to create words even before their hand can hold a pencil.
So it is at this stage that we adults directly teach children the sounds and symbols of our language. This is where we demonstrate that spoken language is directly linked to written/printed language. This is where we make language concrete. What follows is practice. Once the children can associate sound with symbol, they need opportunities and inspiration to practice using that knowledge.
A child will pass through the Sensitive Period of language. During this period, the child will explore his surroundings with tongue and hand, and through these, the child absorbs the qualities of the objects in his environment and seeks to act upon it. He wants to know the name of every object that he sees and touches, and mimic words said by the adults around him. Montessori concluded that the tongue, which man uses for speaking and the hand, which he employs for work, are intimately connected. She pointed out that during the Sensitive Period of language, the child must be exposed to language or it will not develop. Montessori “considered the job of education not to fill the child with the techniques of reading but to free him or self-expression and communication”. (Montessori: A Modern Approach, pg. 123)
In order to fulfill this theory, Montessori created an environment that gives freedom to the child. Conversation between children and adults are appreciated. Natural conversation with the child is essential, since it gives experiences with applied language principles. Conversation is interactive; there is freedom of conversation. Thus, there is a continuous encouragement of self-expression and communication, child to child, and child to adult.
Montessori had a different approach from the traditional method in teaching children writing and reading. The concept of writing comes before reading. The preparation for reading and writing begins with the Practical Life exercises. With these exercises, the children develop the control of movement and eye-hand coordination, which will aid him in writing. The left to right concept in the Practical Life exercises prepares the child in writing and reading. The language area of the classroom assists the child in learning how language functions. Children begin by matching pictures (flowers, animals…) to increase their skill of discrimination. Eventually the child begins to discriminate letter shapes and letter sounds. Reading is taught phonetically, starting with objects and pictures. The child begins to learn what sound they hear at the beginning of the words. The child likes to manipulate the objects or pictures. Children begin sound lessons, which are individual. The teacher shows the child how to trace a letter made of sandpaper while hearing the sound the letter makes. From sound work the child builds words using a moveable alphabet. Individual alphabet pieces allow the child to create phonetic words readily (mat, cut, sit…).
Phonetic reading books are introduced when the child is ready and the students also listen to stories read by the teacher. The child also learns sight words in a variety of lessons. Another component of Montessori language is grammar. Children are introduced to grammar after obtaining a certain level of confidence with reading. Each part of speech is matched with a symbol or classified with things in the class or environment. The child learns to connect the grammar symbol with the part of speech, thereby giving the child one more way to remember parts of speech. Writing (mechanical and creative) is taught in the language area. Metal insets increase the child’s small motor coordination and prepare the hand for writing. Mechanical writing is taught by grouping like letters together.
For example, letters like 0 and a are taught together because 0 is the basic handwriting shape and you make the same shape, but add a connected line to make the letter “a”. The environment is therefore an important factor, since the child builds himself from what is around him and his vocabulary also increases based on the class of people around him, therefore the environment must be prepared to offer language with the possibility for experience, exploration and discovery. In order to fulfill this theory, Montessori created an environment that gives freedom to the child. Conversation between children and adults are appreciated. Natural conversation with the child is essential, since it gives experiences with applied language principles. Conversation is interactive; there is freedom of conversation. Thus, there is a continuous encouragement of self-expression and communication, child to child, and child to adult.
Montessori had a different approach from the traditional method in teaching children writing and reading. The concept of writing comes before reading. The preparation for reading and writing begins with the Practical Life exercises. With these exercises, the children develop the control of movement and eye-hand coordination, which will aid him in writing. The left to right concept in the Practical Life exercises prepares the child in writing and reading. The directress also has role to play as a model and a facilitator, she needs to be able to discover what the child have developed in order to assist and nature him. The directress role in language is also special. She cannot just present and leave the child to explore as we do for other exercises. The exploration in language deals with communication not only manipulation of materials, she must become the instrument of communication and provide the child with opportunities for self-expression. They must be in love with language and bring that always to the child. Children in the Montessori environment are able to help from their peer or teacher.
There is a positive emotional climate that helps the child to freely communicate with teacher and peers. The Montessori classroom is also structure to encourage vertical grouping which in that case a child will freely and respectively associate with children above his age. In that regard, aids the child to learn from those ahead of him. In a Montessori classroom, Communication is always appreciated. As highlighted earlier, natural conversation with the child is essential. Since it gives experience with applied language principle. Group exercises and interactive sessions are encouraged. Rather than giving orders, open-ended questions are asked, providing the child an opportunity to express himself. This helps the child develop and refine his language. Object and pictures also have qualities that help the child development of Language. This pictures and objects hold stories that wait to be told and through that enrich the child’s vocabulary. They freely ask questions to clarity meaning of words that is strange to them. New words are introduced to the child in a systematical way, such as the 3-period lesson, Annunciating slowly and carefully, Encouraging the children to speak and pronounce words, Repeating new words, Singing songs, Reading books, Reciting poetry, Playing sound games like I Spy etc. With this, the child can be able to associate a word to an object, picture, classes of things around the home, city, playground etc.
Once language has been attached, the child sees things intelligently. With this in mind, the child then moves on to writing and later on reading. Once the child is able to build words in the mind, he will be able to write. This is the intellectual component of writing thus the child will be able to put letters together to create a word. It can be done even if one has no muscular control of the hands. As such, this intellectual component of writing may develop even before the hand is able to hold a pencil. The Montessori class prepares the child for writing, right from the Practical life activities up the sensorial periods with activities that development the Pincer grips, develop the muscular and fine motor skills to the left to right concept activities. Our first work in aiding the young child to master writing is to prepare the mind for the work of writing. Therefore the child requires: Self confidence
An organized mind (so he can express himself logically)
Knowledge of words to form complete sentences
Phonetic Awareness( Knowledge of sounds, The ability to recognize sounds in words, The ability to recognize the symbols that correspond to different sounds/associating the sounds with symbols, The ability to link letters together to make words) The desire to write
Slowly the child graduates to reading. From reading single words to phrases and then to other parts of grammar (article, verb, adjective etc.) and then sentences. The process of learning has been structured to help the child move from simple to complex. As the child advances his confidence increases and therefore will not like to stop. In addition, Stories, poems and songs are activities synonymous with nursery classroom as well and also enrich the child’s vocabulary. The whole intention of Montessori System of Learning and Teaching Language is to help children become masters of the spoken and written word, to realize what Dr. Montessori called Total Reading. We want children not only to be able to read and understand the words of others, but to realize their own voice, to trust in it, and to measure everything else against it. This is a much loftier goal than teaching a child to work with the mechanics of letters and phrases. This is work of developing the child’s full potential…and of realizing our own along the way.
Elizabeth Hainstock : The Essential Montessori (Published by Plume Book, 1997) Maria Montessori : Discovery of the Child ( Published by Montessori –Pierson publishing Company, copyright-2007 P81) Maria Montessori : The Absorbent Mind, p109, Published An Owl Book, Henry Holt and Company, New York)
E.M. Standing, Maria Montessori: Her Life & Work, PLUME, Penguin Books USA Lynne Lawrence: :Montessori Read & Write-(Published by Three Rivers Press, 1998) David Gettman: : Basic Montessori ( St. Martin’s Griffin May 1988, Chapter 4)
THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD – CHAPTER 17
Speech is a natural function of man and a means of social progress. Just as a child must have acquired sounds at birth through the age of three and eventually develops his language, the speech then becomes a refined mechanism of expressing language which has been acquired all through the formative years. Speech is a means of social progress thus can be associated with writing language which comprises of both dictation and reading and contains articulate language in all it’s complexity. Writing Language can therefore be considered first as an added value to man’s natural spoken language. It can be seen as the educational value and a necessary means of putting man contact with his social environment. Secondly, it is considered as a means to improve speech. Therefore writing can be considered in itself, in its formation as a whole new series of mechanism with the neutral system or as a means that maybe employed for social ends. This has been one of the physiological reasons for writing language. Writing is provoked by the impression on motor mechanism to produce a will or arouse a feeling to carry out the will to write, invariably an idea cannot act directly upon the motor nerve and much less can it do this when the idea itself is incomplete and does not arouse a feeling which moves the will.
Therefore, the mind also has a major role to play. Spoken language is gradually formed and is already established in words when the higher psychic Centers use these words to form languages through the grammatical and syntactical formation of language required for the expression of complex idea. This process is called dictorium. At the first stages of a child’s life, the child continues to listen to sounds and small words from the mother these sounds turns into syllables which now turns into something the mother can use. Spoken Language then begins when the word he pronounces represents an idea. So we therefore can say that language begins when it can be linked to perception even when speech in its psycho- motor mechanism is still rudimentary. In other words, language is initiated when spoken words can be recognized, perceived and associated with objects which they represent. In addition to pictures, we can also be allowed to perceive objects or things from nature and environment. This will create some form of order his grammar and language of the child as the child does not just learn words randomly selected from a box of words but classifies the words in relation to things. Such as classes of animals, leaves flowers etc. and they are thought to follow their curiosity.
Later, language gradually perfects itself on this level as the hearing detects more perfectly the component sounds of words and the psycho- motor channels become better suited for articulation. This happens between the ages of 2 to 5 years. This is also the age of mobility, the child psycho- motor channels becomes permeable and the muscular mechanism becomes fixed. The next stage is writing the heard words. The mechanism of Speech is parallel to written language and is much simpler to teach and learn since the motor action required corresponds to heard words. The movements required for writing is quite different from that of speaking or hearing as the movement required in writing is muscular and mostly external, therefore can directly be influenced through preparatory movements. The child then moves onto understanding the components of words and sounds. To attain this end, a child must know how to analyze words. A child is first taught the components of the sound, then pass on to study grammar and then taught how to write grammar after which they are thought to perfect their style of speech. Is only when they are now speaking can they be able to analyze their speech. Conclusively, there are two extremes to the construction of language, the grammar; which determines the order in which words are arranged for the expression of thoughts and the other is the need for order in which external impressions are classified. Having acquired this much knowledge, man cannot overlook the mental capacity of a child as a contributing factor in the chain of civilization.
ABSORBENT MIND – CHAPTER 10
(SOME THOUGHTS ON LANGUAGE)
Language is an instrument of collective thoughts. No child is born into existence with language but some sounds which they eventually are able to put together later translate into speech and then language. Language is born out of some expressions of agreement between the members of a human group. A group may agree to express things differently from another group. Thus an expression can only be recognized by only the group of society or environment that may have agreed to those terms. It is therefore not enough to have the power to think or to develop your cognitive intelligence but you will also need to be able to interact and interact intelligently with the society we find ourselves in. Therefore, we can say that language is a wall which encloses a given human company and separates it from all others. (Maria Montessori, the absorbent mind, Pg. 96) Given that language is an expression, expression can be spoken or unspoken. Expressions are spoken with coordination of sounds. Therefore one cannot completely rule out the importance of the mind. At first you might think that language is given to us by nature but it actual super imposed on nature, an intellectual product of the mass mind.
This is why is easy for a child to naturally learn languages without being taught provided she finds himself in an environment where a particular set of language is been expressed. Language grows with human thoughts, so before an expression is made, there are orders or rules guiding it, coordinating the thoughts together before it is spoken. We therefore cannot overlook the power of thought. A word that has to be spoken has to be arranged in a particular way or pattern for it to make their meaning and if you follow the order of arrangement, one can clearly say that a human is civilized by the way you speak. All children pass through periods or stages of language in their lives. Even the child that absorbed language graduates or develops his language. From the period of learning sounds, to the learning of words and then perfection of phonetic, syntax and grammar. There is a spontaneous acquisition of language at the early ages of zero to two and half years, the child unconsciously acquires various languages.
At this first period, as the child establishes its mental structure and build it mechanisms of expression unconsciously within his social class or race. This eventually is transfer to the conscious at the age of three years and beyond. Then the child discovers the power of his mental capacity and with full possession of this knowledge, talks with ceasing. At the age of five to six years, which is the second period, the child explodes. Because at this stage, the child will have learnt new words and perfected his sentence formations. At this stage, their vocabulary becomes richer. It does not necessarily have to do with the environment of the class of people that surrounds the child. They just absorb anything and everything. Therefore, there is an unconscious activity that prepares speech, succeeded by a conscious process which slowly awakens and takes from the unconscious what it can offer. And the final result? Is MAN and its whole purpose? is civilization.
Maria Montessori : Discovery of the Child ( Published by Montessori –Pierson publishing Company, copyright-2007) Maria Montessori : The Absorbent Mind, p109, Published An Owl Book, Henry Holt and Company, New York)