“The Montessori classroom uses the phonics approach to teach reading. Outline the graded phonics sequence and state the reading skills required at each stage. Suggest other activities that can be used to encourage children to read. ” The natural purpose of language is the expression and communication of meaning in our daily living. It enables us to express our needs, share our experiences and learn from each other. Language is the medium of thought and of learning. Language is needed to communicate with one another, this is the social aspect of language, which unites human beings by a common bond.
Language not only fuses men into groups and nations, but it is central point of difference between the human species and all others. According to Maria Montessori “Language is an instrument of collective thought”. She felt that language is truly the expression of a kind of super intelligence. Language develops naturally like a spontaneous creation. “The bond between the human beings is their common intelligence and language is the vehicle that makes the abstract intelligence of the community possible” – Language and the development of reading (course material), page 5 Dr.
Maria Montessori developed two main concepts “Absorbent Mind” and “Sensitive Periods”, which are basic essentials of her philosophy. The first 6 years age span is divided into 2 three year periods. The first 3 years is called as unconscious learning and next three years is conscious learning. The emotional and intellectual qualities of the child develop through “sensitive Periods”. Each sensitive period motivate child to seek 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 sensory stimuli, thought process of environment. Child has creative intelligence that exists in his conscious mental stage. Between ages 0-3 years, this unique early learning capacity is the most formative in the child. The mind soaks up information like sponge. Children develop their personalities through interaction with the environment. A child has a sensitive period which lasts until he is almost six year old.
Sensitive period is the time when child focuses on one aspect of his environment and excludes all others. This time we can observe, child perform activities repeatedly with passion and conviction. They do the activity with concentration until their sensitivity is satisfied. Once a sensitivity is satisfied another sensitivity starts. The purpose of each sensitive period is to help them acquire a certain skill or characteristic for their growth. The sensitivity lasts for a certain period and does not occur.
The sensitive periods include a sensitive period for learning language, refining the senses, learning to perfect movement and walking, a love of order in the environment and an attention to details and it is also important to remember that the young child does not need deliberate teaching, but they does need help in their development “The sensitivity to language begins early in the child’s life. The baby will begin to imitate the speaking sounds it hears. The baby hears many sounds like musical melodies, dog barking, etc.
The fact that babies do not imitate these sounds shows that babies posses sensitivity towards the human language” – Montessori Principles and Philosophy (course manual) – pg 35 Montessori refers to the period of life between birth and three as the time when the intelligence and all the psychic facilities are being formed. Intelligence, according to her, is the ability to differentiate and to make judgments quickly and in an orderly manner. Man, unlike animals is not born with pre established behavior patterns, only with ability to form them.
She spoke of the child mind as the absorbent mind because of its great ability to learn and assimilate effortlessly and unconsciously from the world around him, while the child is absorbing from his environment; he is building into himself a part of his mental being. Though gradual and normal learning processes, behavior patterns are established and the powers of the adult mind are developed. She recognized that the young child in his formative stages absorbs almost all of his early learning from an environment in which he is placed, attitude, language, movements and behavior.
The environment of the classroom was prepared with this concept of mind. The learning of language is truly the child’s most remarkable intellectual achievement, the parents, who are the child’s first language teachers, should begin during his early infancy to give verbal meaning to the things in the child’s environment. Language is an integral part of the Montessori class room, though encouragement of self expression, lessons and freedom of conversation.
Language lies at the root of that transformation of the environment that we all call civilization. Dr. Maria Montessori recognized that writing precedes reading in young children and developed her method of teaching. While normally young children are frequently able to write before they learn to read. The children around three to four years old could know a small number of letters of alphabet and they are in point to figure it out how to represent a word; for example ‘o’ and ‘x’, they might write down or construct in wooden letters or letter card.
Because of this Montessori used natural way, which referring to writing first method to teach reading as a direction to approach and which is suitable for all the children. Because in writing sound are converted to letter. Once we have converted the sound into the letter and then write them onto paper, once done, reverse the same process by converting letters to the sound but are not reading. The first step in reading is sounding out. We can figure it out the sound that the letters stand for, but this is not reading.
But to be regarded as reading, we need to recognize the word, not just pronounce it. Reading and writing should not be taught to a child before age six or seven, but, given the sensorial experiences of appropriate materials a child of normal intelligence will quite naturally teach herself to read and write sometimes as early as three or four years of age. Writing aids the physiological language and reading aids the social language. Reading is the interpretation of an idea from the written signs. Progress in writing is marked by the parallel development of the written and spoken language. The child’s explosion into writing is closely connected with his special sensitivity for language – The essential Montessori by Elizabeth Hainstock page 82, published by penguin group, May 1986” In a Montessori prepared environment, it provides materials that aids this process. To start off with the child in his development in language, the Montessori classroom is designed to help the child reach the 3rd period of perception.
Because the learning of language is not done through subjects as in a normal classroom, the child is learning at his own rhythm. This allows the child to concentrate on the learning of each important step in language so that each progressive step is done easily and without any thought on the part of the child. The special material which is also known as Montessori Language materials plays an important role in aiding the children develop the powers of communication and expression, of organization and classification, and the development of thought.
Language learning materials designed for young children are often brightly, but randomly, multicolored, decorated with assorted child oriented images such as animals, clowns or fantasy characters. Each material has an exact use and a specific purpose, every variation in texture, colour, shape and size or movement is related to that purpose. Movement and manipulation are features of the way, children use the Montessori materials. For example when they use the materials children trace with the fingers and pencils, walk with boxes, objects and labels to different parts of the room.
In word building exercises, child will learn the sounds of the letters and make the words with large movable alphabets. The language materials are Oral/Auditory, Word Reading Level, Sentence Reading Level and there is also Montessori Three Period Lesson. The goal of the auditory-oral approach is for the child is to learn spoken language and to be able to communicate verbally. The children can look at the speaker’s face and mouth in order to lip read. Children who follow the oral approach are fitted with hearing aids and use hearing to supplement their speech reading.
Language has four main aspects: listening, speaking, reading and writing; where listening and reading are means of sharing people’s thought; and speaking and writing are means of self-expression. Storytelling and reading, finger play, songs, poems and naming activities are few examples of activities that are encouraged in the class. Young children are told stories of the people they know, famous people and stories about the lives of the animals, etc. Children love rhythmic and rhyming language. They sometimes listen and memorize rhymes and poems.
The I-Spy game is one of the classic word games that are played in the classroom. Phonetic method is taught to the child where the sound and not the name of the alphabets are introduced. Children are given opportunity to learn the names of everything in the environment. Knowing the names contributes to children’s independence and freedom. Once the children know the sounds and letter shapes of enough vowels and consonants, they are ready to write, the only barrier for such young children is the inability to control a pencil. This barrier is overcome in Montessori class room with movable alphabets.
Montessori reading material is classified into the Pink Scheme, the Blue Scheme and the Green Scheme. These materials were developed to meet that need. They break down the essentials of English phonics into three groups: short vowel sounds, consonant blends, and phonetic combinations. By moving through these materials in order, a child is able to easily master the art of reading and writing in English. No child can be educated unless she can read. The aim of the Pink Scheme is to give the child a variety of work of the same style to maintain her interest.
Children learn to hold and control a pencil in exercises with metal insets. Pink Series words consist of three letters: a beginning and ending consonant, and a vowel in the middle. All of the vowel sounds in this series are short vowels: “a” as in “cat”; “e” as in “bed”, “i” as in “pig”, “o” as in “hot”, and “u” as in “bus”. Blue Scheme is the same format of materials previously used in the Beginning Reading sequence is repeated. Now, for the four or more letter phonetic words, the materials are color-coded blue.
These words consist of consonant blends (at the beginning or end of the word, or both), and a short vowel sound. Examples would include “flag”, “mend”, and “clock”. The large array of materials is intended to give the children lots of practice reading phonetic words. The material is presented in different formats in order to keep the children’s interest and help them feel that they are progressing. After children have been working with a given material for awhile, new material is brought into the room to keep interest alive.
The Green Scheme is where reading fluency really begins, as the child now has the keys to unlock the inconsistencies and characteristics of the English language and it has words consist of all the major phonemes, The Green Series words consist of all the major phonemes, for example: “ai”, “ou”, “ie”, and “ow”. It also includes vowel combinations with a consonant in the middle, like “a_e” or “i_e” where the “_” is a consonant. These would be words like “cake” or “mice”. It includes silent letters, hard and soft letters, and many other difficult spelling and reading challenges. It is not necessary to teach a child how to write; a child who can draw will write. ”(The Discovery of the Child by Maria Montessori, p186). The Phonetic Farm game introduces grammatical concepts using colour-coding scheme for different part of speech. Therefore, in a Montessori classroom, a child is taught to write first before reading. The exercises from the Practical Life and Sensorial have indirectly prepared his hand for writing. In the Language area, the metal inset will indirectly help the child to gain good control of pencil through tracing the shape of the inset.
The Sandpaper letters give the child the link between the sounds he has been working with a particular sense perception. The moveable alphabet activity assists the child in word building skills and to analyze words as a preparation for reading, writing and spelling, by assembling the words according to the sound or picture required. “Echoing the way, the movable alphabets, helps children attend to the stream of sound in spoken language, the movable grammar symbols help children analyze the stream of meaning in written language.
When the symbols are placed over a sequence of words, the grammar pattern becomes visible to the children. ” Montessori and Early childhood by Susan Feez, pg 121, Sage publication limited, 2010. Activities that intrigue young minds to want to know more are the key to motivating children to read. The most important preparation of the environment for successful development of spoken and written language in the child is the language environment of the home. It is never too early to speak clearly and precisely to the child.
In fact the language of the caregivers in the first six years of life will literally form the spoken language of the child. Reading aloud to the child gives the message that reading is fun for everyone, and concepts and vocabulary words will be experienced which would never come up in spoken language For success in language a child needs confidence that what she has to say is important, a desire to relate to others, real experience on which language is based, and the physical abilities necessary in reading and writing. We can listen and talk to the child from birth on, not in baby talk, but with respect and with a rich vocabulary.
We can provide a stimulating environment, rich in sensorial experiences and in language, providing a wealth of experience, because language is meaningless if it is not based on experience. We can set an example and model precise language in our everyday activities with the child. If we share good literature, in the form of rhymes, songs, poetry and stories we will greatly increase the child’s love of language Children should be taken to libraries and book stores. It is important to show kids that all the information they know and talk about, that their parents do and say, comes in books.
Don’t deny kids the experience of the book As the child leaves the Montessori classroom after the age of six, they will have become a communicative person, being able to communication his feelings in well-formed sentences and in writing. He will be able to write these thoughts and feelings in a skillful handwriting. He will have the ability to write in different styles and about a variety of subjects. The child will have total reading and a sense of the home language at a level where he will be the master of his words.
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