“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?
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.
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,...