“ No One Can Be Free Unless He Is Independent. Therefore, the First Active Manifestations of the Child’s Individual Liberty Must Be so Guided That Through This Activity He May Arrive at Independence”.
DMT 106 – Language Essay Topic “Language lies at the root of that transformation of the environment that we call civilisation”. * Dr. Maria Montessori. How is language encouraged in the Montessori prepared environment? Introduction:- A Language differentiates a community from one another but at the same time it also unites and binds people of different background and races together through a common language. Language is required to understand speech and to convey our thoughts, feelings and our wants. It unites individuals and it develops consistently according to the need of their mind.
It is through communication that human beings have collaborated with each other to solve common problems and based on written and oral language in particular that each generation has passed on its accumulated wisdom to the next. “Language, we may say, grow with human thought. ”(Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p109). The process of language and speech development which influences children into social and emotional interaction begins right from birth. The significant time of language development in a child’s life is from birth to six years, which Montessori described as Sensitive Periods.
Their primary caretakers during these years are often their parents with whom they interact the most, influence the language development. Thus, home is the first prepared environment where a child is exposed to facial and verbal interaction. The Montessori prepared environment provides this in an appealing and ordered way. The materials in the environment are appealing to a child’s sensitive periods, like language with its nebulae for reading. It is planned and maintained by the directress in such a way that the child is free to educate himself independently and with ease. We like to live in an orderly environment because it ministers to a sense of comfort in us, and aids our efficiency. ” (Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work by E. M. Standing, P. 125). So the materials provided in classroom are all child sized. Consequently the children learn to manipulate their environment as they attempt to communicate their desires to all individuals around them. The development of four aspects of language i. e. , Writing, Listening, Reading and Oral expression is achieved through activities which are conducted in a Montessori classroom by the directress.
For instance- Writing is developed by encouraging children in correct formation of letters, pincer grip exercises, spelling and grammar. Oral expression is achieved through songs, drama, storytelling, vocabulary building, expressing logical thoughts and ideas. Reading is developed on the bases of sounds of the letters i. e. , phonics, the focus in on meaning, signs of letters or numbers, interpretation while enjoying it. Development of listening ability is achieved through circle time, interactive games, silence game, various sounds in the environment and music.
Literature Review- In the Montessori classroom it is believed that children go through sensitive periods where they are strongly drawn to the development of these particular skills including language. Dr. Maria Montessori developed two main basic concepts that are essentials of her philosophy namely- “Absorbent Mind” and “Sensitive Periods”. The first 6 years of age span is divided into 2 three year periods, 0-3 years and 3-6 years. The first 3 years of the child is considered as ‘Unconscious Learning’ and next three years is ‘Conscious Learning’.
Both, the intellectual and emotional qualities of the child develop through “Sensitive Periods”. Each sensitive period motivates child to explore objects and relationships in their environment. According to Maria Montessori- “Child’s mind is sharper than an adult”. During sensitive period, children easily acquire abilities like language, discrimination of various senses, knowledge of the world, thought process of environment. With this in mind, a Montessori environment has been specially designed to appeal to children right from the age 2. 5, and the sensitive period that they are in.
The Montessori learning environment promotes the understanding that children not only learn ‘with’ each other, but ‘from’ each other. There are children of different age groups in one classroom where they interact with each other, which indirectly motivates them to increase their vocabulary- This is known as Vertical Grouping. Mixed age group- eg- three to six, six to nine encourages all children to develop their personalities socially and intellectually at their own pace. Thus this minimises the need for adult’s guidance and intervention. From a teachers perspective learning occurs even in social occasions like snack time and meal time. There is a great sense of community within the Montessori classroom, where children of differing ages work together in an atmosphere of cooperation rather than competitiveness. There is respect for the environment and for the individuals within it, which comes through experience of freedom within the community. ’ Dr Maria Montessori (cited in Elizabeth Hainstock, 1986, p. 81 – The Essential Montessori). A sense of community allows the children to become confident in their environment and in themselves, using the knowledge and skills they acquire to express their own ideas and creativity.
Development related to early literacy skills occurs when young children visit the language area in a Montessori classroom. The materials provide opportunities to get familiar with sounds of the letters with sandpaper cards, moveable alphabet exercises (LMA, SMA), expand vocabulary with wordlists, booklets, secret box, sentence cards and to look carefully and differentiate among objects and pictures. Young children learn by touching, listening and looking, therefore Sandpaper Letters and Moveable alphabets have proven to be effective as it provides sensorial education which lasts longer in a child’s mind.
Children trace and feel the shapes of the letters while listening to its sound. This develops reading and writing phonetically. Later, stroking letters on a sand tray can be encouraged to associate the sounds and shapes of letters. Montessori had developed metal insets to assist the development of fine and muscle control, co-ordination, concentration which would later help in formation of letters. It develops pincer grip for fine movement of hand muscle, fingers and writs while using a pencil. Insets for design are direct preparation for writing.
The combination of these two, insets and sounds of letters assists children to form words. In relation to the achievement of writing skill a child of 2. 5 to 5 years is in a sensitive period for language and for movement. When the child has had their sensitive period in a progressive way, then emerges the explosion of writing. Writing is taught before reading through the direct and indirect aims of the Montessori Practical Life and Sensorial work. The child learns from simple to more complex exercises. Through practical life exercises, a child is able to use correct fingers in order to hold a pencil.
Exercises like screwing and unscrewing nuts and bolts, opening and closing locks and keys, threading and beading, pegging, pouring, self-dressing frames etc indirectly prepares the child for future writing. Using touch boards, knobless cylinder, geometric cabinets etc in sensorial exercises children learn working from left to right. Sound boxes, silence game enhances listening skills which are essential for writing as they will be able to hear the sounds of the letters well and will be able to make a word. Presentation tray displays concept of clockwise and anti-clockwise directions.
Once a child has worked with these materials, they move on to more complex exercises for preparations of writing. Young children find matching, sorting amusing from sets of objects like cars and trucks, zoo animals, pictures of various objects. They enjoy learning the names of household tools like in kitchen area, unusual fruits and vegetables, animals and various geometric shapes, to name a few. The names of everyday objects are very useful and most important to the children and they will be thrilled to be able to use them correctly.
Thus, Montessori classroom encourage language in different situations. Example- Role Play, Home Corner, Post office, Doctors clinic etc. It encourages descriptive language, children model in pretending play and this introduces them to appropriate words where necessary. The tape recorder corner is a popular attraction as children listen to rhymes, various sounds in the environment, as well as their favourite stories and songs. The use of singing, music, rhymes builds up on skills for good communication. The directress provides opportunity for language rich outdoor environment.
Children explore the outdoor world carefully and develop awareness of the environment. Develop thinking skills which requires them to communicate and collect required information from the teachers or from other children. In a Montessori environment children are given the Freedom of Speech. This practise leaves any sort of hesitation behind and children are free to express their thoughts and opinions and improve their creative ideas. Children show enthusiasm and interest in language via books, poetry, rhymes, word games, etc.
Therefore, when the directress set up a book corner in a Montessori classroom, the area need to be comfortable for reading the books with appropriate light and setting. It is essential that the books are presented to the child in the right manner. They need to be displayed in an appealing way, easy to access them from the shelf, books should be attractive and also, they should be rotated frequently. However, books can even be included into a child’s day through circle time, individual reading time, project work and drama.
Various activities like drama, storytelling can fascinate children even more with the use of other objects like masks, puppets, musical instruments etc. Writing notes/personal experiences, grocery lists, thank you letters, creative thoughts by means of drawings and written stories can begin at a very early age. All this may enhance child’s language acquisition as well. Games such as eye spy encourage the child to listen for specific sounds and build their thinking capability and match them to objects corresponding to these initial sounds. Thus a child is refining their listening skills and perfecting their knowledge.
Circle time one of a great activity to built language with practical knowledge. The directress discusses the calendar giving the information about days of the week, months of a year and so on, to the children. Personal experiences are shared among the group and every individual is given a chance to express their thoughts. This gives a good structure to both listening and speaking skills. Language development in children is effected by many factors. At times, this development slows down while a child is learning other new skills such as standing or walking etc.
In other words, the energy at this point is being divided into other activities which include over-all development. The amount of exposure of language may also affect the rate of language development. Example- A language taught in Montessori other than mother tongue should be encouraged and practised at home as well till the child is comfortable in speaking a new language. Lack of this practise promotes children to be silent for a long period of time in the classroom. However, a right environment can assist a child to naturally develop language in a multi-cultural society. By merely living and without any conscious effort the individual absorbs from the environment even a complex cultural like language. ” (Elizabeth G. Hainstock, The Essential Montessori, pg. 81). All individual including the directress, make communication stronger while talking to the children. They should make eye-contact, acknowledge what they say, ask open-ended questions with appropriate tone with slow and clear speech. Children who receive poor response can be affected by the rate of language development. Conclusion- In conclusion, Language is the oral expression of thoughts, which is nurtured by a prepared environment.
The purpose of this environment is to make language rich and enjoyable and give an interesting structure of four aspects of language- speaking, reading, writing and listening. Young children are provided with the best literature and non-fictions and real world environment for developing language naturally. Outdoor and Indoor environments provide lots of learning experiences- which are purposeful and has a cycle of activity. The Montessori environment is orderly and structured to simply to enable the child to make independent choices for their learning. Writing preparation is first introduced before reading. In brief, writing helps a child’s physiologically and reading helps him socially”(Montessori, 1983, pg 230). Therefore, a child gradually learns to communicate through language to make his mark in the society. Bibliography- * http://ilovemontessori. com/maria-montessori-quotes/ * http://www. brainyquote. com/quotes/quotes/m/mariamonte391568. html * Maria Montessori (cited in Elizabeth Hainstock, 1986, p. 81 – The Essential Montessori. * Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, pg-109 * Maria Montessori, Discovery of the child, chapter- 15, 16. * Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work, E. M. Standing, Penguin books ltd, pg- 125.