We are back after a new year break! This time we will be reviewing the Montessori approach to language by giving you my top 5 language tips. Here they are:
1. Listen to your child
Whenever time allows, stop what you are doing, look them in the eye, let them take as long as they need, and – hard as it is – try not to finish their sentences. If your child say “ba-ba” for ball; you can show you have listened by including the real word in a sentence, for example, “Yes, you threw the ball in the park.”
2. Use rich language
A child wants to learn the name of everything in their environment and understand the meaning of words they hear. Give the child the names of dogs, vegetables, food, vehicles, trees, birds and anything else you find.
3. Keep talking
It is lovely to describe to your baby and toddler what you are doing and provides them with extensive vocabulary. If you have a newborn and a toddler, you can make eye contact with the baby and talk to them about what their brother or sister is doing; then both children are made to feel special.
4. Read, read, read
Choose good books to share with your children and read aloud often. Young children are interested in the world around them (rather than fantasy) so choose books with pictures of real objects and stories about known experiences, such as visiting grandparents, going shopping or getting ready in the morning. One of my favourite books for young children is Sunshine by Jan Ormerod — it has no words but the most beautiful illustrations of daily life. It is also nice to have books which show children from all cultures. And, in keeping with having books based on reality, save books with animals driving cars, talking or going to the supermarket until your child is a little older.
5. But don’t forget to include moments of silence in your day
Keep the television and radio off if you are finished listening to them together. It is difficult to filter out these background noises and is not ideal for language acquisition. In addition, as adults we like to give our children feedback on everything they do, but it is also ok to remain silent sometimes and allow your child to evaluate for themselves what they have done.
“There is a ‘sensitive period’ for naming things…and if adults respond to the hunger for words in an appropriate way, they can give their children a richness and precision of language that will last a lifetime.”– Dr Silvano Montanaro
It is amazing to think that your child is listening to and absorbing everything they hear from the last months in utero, as a newborn, as a small baby and on, especially to your language. I love that Montessori educators and parents worldwide talk to the child from birth with respect and with a precise vocabulary. Children understand more than baby talk and simple instructions. They want to be included in the communications of our daily life.