Monroe Montessori School


Language Development - Preschool

Here are a few suggestions we recommend to nurture your child's language development:

  • Read a story to your child every day.
  • Hold your child while you are reading.
  • Have a conversation about the book before, during and after you read it.
  • Relate the stories in the book to real life events.
  • Let your child see you reading for enjoyment regularly.
  • Point out examples of words or letters inside and/or outside your home such as signs.
  • Monitor your child’s TV viewing and talk about the programs.
  • Explain unfamiliar words or experiences to your child.

What was Montessori’s philosophy on language development?

Have you ever wondered how your child developed spoken language? Have you ever thought about why a young child does not verbally include the sound of the telephone or the doorbell or perhaps the dog barking in their spoken language?

Maria Montessori believed that as human beings we are all social creatures. All people naturally want to communicate with others of their kind. In a child there are nebulous urges for language. This gives the child the ability to select out of the sounds he hears in his environment that which will enable him to learn language. Until about age six the child has an "Absorbent Mind" with a special kind of memory which allows him to take in everything and remember it subconsciously. These bits of information are stored in the brain for later use at a conscious level.

How children acquire language led Montessori to believe that language is “absorbed” by the young child. Language and the "mother tongue" develop naturally and follow a familiar path in children all over the world. The four stages are: Auditory (listening), Oral, Manual and Interpretive (reading).

The three to six year old is in his Sensitive Period for language. His absorbent mind is adding new words to his recognition at a rate that will never be the same. By age six the sensitive period of language has weakened and the child begins to be more interested in the structure of things and is now drawn to grammar work. Early work on phonics is gradually replaced with an emphasis on sight recognition of vocabulary as the child improves his reading skills.

The concept of Indirect Preparation was introduced when Montessori discovered that through the Sandpaper Letters and the Moveable Alphabet the child can simultaneously prepare himself for reading and writing. When the child is ready, the Montessori preschool environment provides experiences in Oral/Auditory, Mechanical, Word Reading and Sentence Reading.

Children need to be active participants in teaching themselves to read. By working on the rug with the moveable alphabet or writing by hand they figure out (in-code) words on their own. It is a stimulating and fun learning process that often happens spontaneously. Montessori referred to this process as an “explosion into writing.”

Language skills alone are not the whole of the experience in a Montessori classroom. It is of primary importance to develop a love of language and of literature. You can help your child take the first steps towards literacy by emphasizing attitudes and modeling a rich language experience at home. Poems are a wonderful way for your child to develop an appreciation of our language. Re-reading his favorite story with love and patience is another.