Dear Casa III parents,
I hope you had a wonderful break! It has been wonderful to hear the children talk about all the beautiful things they did with their families during the holiday.
During the last couple weeks, we have been working on one of the projects for “Jazz for JMS”, which is a collaborative painting! The children are very excited to create something that will help support our school. I would like to encourage you to join us on March 7th. “Jazz for JMS” is the most important fundraising event for our school. You will not only be helping our school, but it's also a good opportunity to have fun, while getting to know more families that form part of our JMS community.
Today I would like to address another question parents frequently ask:
How can I support the area of Language at home?
First of all, I would like to explain a little bit about how language is introduced in the Montessori classroom.
Dr. Maria Montessori observed language development happening in three interrelated stages: Spoken Language, Written Language and Reading.
In the Spoken language area, we do activities such as storytelling, reading poems and playing question games. All of these exercises broaden the child’s vocabulary and offer concrete examples that give true meaning to the words given to the child. Our role as adults is to always encourage speech, for it is very important not to interfere when the child speaks. We should try not to finish sentences for the child. We can also help them by listening and getting down to their physical level to show how interested we are in everything that they have to say.
Written language is divided into subareas: Creative writing, where children work with sound games, sandpaper letters, and the movable alphabet. In this area, children will develop the ability to communicate their thoughts and ideas without oral communication. After learning the sounds, children will be able to express themselves with the movable alphabet. Then, we introduce Mechanical writing, which is the ability to handwrite by using an instrument (chalk or pencil). This comes after a lot of experience with the movable alphabet and other direct and indirect preparation of the hand. As children continue writing and doing all of these activities, they will soon start trying to sound words out and are ready to move to the Reading area.
In the Reading area, we use a phonetic approach, so at the beginning we will only give the short sounds of the vowels. When a child reads, he or she needs to do five basic things: 1, identify symbols; 2. attach sounds to those symbols; 3. combine the letters; 4. attach meaning to the word; and 5. put the meaning of the word into context with other words.
To help with Spelling we work with the puzzle words (sight words) and phonograms (consonants or vowel combinations that make one sound SH, AY, or TH etc…)
To help children understand the Order Within Words, we work with:
Reading classification, which combines the knowledge of the puzzle words and phonograms.
Function of Words, which provides a sensorial impression of grammar to help children understand the order of the words and parts of speech such as article, adjectives, nouns etc..
Reading Analysis, which helps them learn sentence structure by looking at the functions of the main components of a sentence. When the children are able to do these activities and are fairly good readers, we give them a symbolic representation of predicative and subject.
Word Study, which allows them to look at the different elements of the written word, such as Compound Words, Antonyms, Homonyms, Prefixes, Suffixes, etc.
“Why Writing before Reading?”
Dr. Maria Montessori discovered through observation the fact that children can write before they read, and in order to read, the child has to be able to decode somebody else’s idea and symbols.
· A thought (known)
· Identify sound
· Attach symbol
· Use tool to transcribe
· Someone else’s thought (unknown)
· Identify symbol
· Attach sound
· Fuse sound
· Attach a meaning
What You Can Do at Home
In order to support your child’s development at home, it is important for you to understand what is it that we do at school, and also know that replicating our materials and activities can be actually counterproductive and cause your child to lose interest in the materials, thus taking away the joy of learning and repeating the work at school. What you can do is provide an environment rich in vocabulary, use a great variety of words and phrases in appropriate context, have nice conversations with your child and also be a good listener. Play a question game: “What are you eating?”, “Where did that come from?”, “How did that get to that place?”, etc. You would be surprised to hear all the things they come up with. You can also read with and to your child from a selection of good quality books and poetry. You could go to the local library and find books of your child’s interest. You could do sound games or I Spy Games: “I spy an object that starts with the sound ă” or “I spy a fruit that ends with the sound ă”.
Our goal is within the three years of the Montessori Primary program to help your children properly express themselves though words, become creative writers and total readers, help the children find joy in reading great literature, and remain hungry to keep on learning!
“The child does not “remember” sounds, but he incarnates them, and can then produce them to perfection. He speaks his language according to its complex rules, with all their exceptions, not because he studied it, nor by the ordinary use of memory. Perhaps his memory never retains it consciously, and yet this language comes to form part of his psychic life and himself.”
Dr. Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, page 62.
Sharon, Willow & Maria.