What is Montessori Preschool? Part 9

Montessori Learning Materials, 5 - Language: From Oral to Written Language

The joy of a child’s language learning is apparent among all parents. There is always great satisfaction upon hearing a child’s first word, the first funny sentence, and a child’s inventive and poetic expressions, which are free from the confines of grammatical conventions.

The Montessori environment emphasizes spoken language as the foundation for all linguistic expression. Within a Montessori classroom the child hears and uses precise vocabulary for all activities, learning the names of textures, tastes, geometric figures, musical composers, plants, mathematical operations, etc. In addition, certain language learning materials are designed especially to support a child’s oral language development.

learning names of parts of a leaf

The materials for written language first introduce the child to the amazing letters of the alphabet and their sounds, which make it possible for us to express ourselves through writing. Later the child can begin to form words, sentences or short stories using the moveable alphabet (see below).

At this developmental stage, the child is fascinated by the relation that exists between letters, how letters are used to form words, how words are used to form phrases, and even grammatical analysis of the parts of a phrase (noun, verb, etc.). Children in the Montessori classroom usually acquire the ability to write and read spontaneously, as a result of the learning process they engage in. Often this achievement is accompanied by a happy explosion of exclamations such as “I know how to read!” or “I know how to write!”

The work of language learning is extended as well into explorations in the social and natural sciences, driven by the child’s curiosity. Classification of images allow the child to experience new vocabulary associated with plants and animals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and so forth. The child also learns the parts of the animal or plant and the shape of the flowers, which are already familiar from work with the Sensorial materials (see Sac Be newsletter from January 2009, on Sensorial materials in the Montessori Classroom).

Before the age of six, a child’s natural language facilities are much greater than is true for adults, as they still have the capacity to learn different languages with little formal instruction. At Otoch Paal, the children have regular English classes in order to help develop this natural ability. Although not all of the children will become fluent in English, their exposure to the sounds and structures of a second language will help facilitate their overall language learning.

Maps, flags, books and topographic contrasts allow the child to explore the continents and oceans of the world, the people and their customs, allowing the child to appreciate all the families of the human race in their rich diversity. The children discover that through reading and writing, they can explore any time and any place.

Stay tuned for the next installment about Montessori Materials—“Art & Music Integrated in the Montessori Environment.”

To see a Montessori preschool in operation, come visit Otoch Paal Community Center in Akumal Pueblo. Otoch Paal welcomes visitors who are interested in seeing how a Montessori center operates. Classes are in session from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visitors are asked to come between 9 and 10:30 a.m.

How you can help. As a non-profit community-based learning center, Otoch Paal does not generate sufficient funds to pay for all necessary school improvements. Monetary donations and donations in kind are always welcome. Donations can be made directly at the school. Or more information can be found at: http://montessoriaroundtheworld.org/otoch.html/

The Rotary Club of Fort Collins, Colorado has already raised money for one new roof but they are still working on raising funds for the second (and last) grass roof that needs to be replaced at Otoch Paal (for more information, read the Sac Be newsletter from September 2008). If you are interested in donating to the roof project, please contact Ron Rockvam at the email address below. Are you part of a Rotary Club that wants to get involved? Contact Ron Rockvam of the Foothills Rotary Club at: dvantage@msn.com

Are you associated with a Montessori school that could donate used learning materials for the preschool/kindergarten classroom? Contact Eleonor Bermudez Ferrer, of Otoch Paal, at: leocancun@hotmail.com or Ellie Zucker, parent, at: elzucker@aol.com

Directions to Otoch Paal: The school is located near the back of Akumal Pueblo, on the Northern edge of the town. It can be reached by following the Pueblo’s main street (avenida) to the fourth block on the right hand side of the street. After passing the secondary and kindergarten schools (which are on the main street), turn right at the corner where the kindergarten is located and continue to the next corner. Otoch Paal is next to the kindergarten and the entrance is at the far corner, near the town’s edge.

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