Saturday, June 13, 2009

Montessori and the Tactile Sense

When you visit a Montessori classroom for infants and toddlers, the first thing that all parents remark upon is how calm the teachers remain. There is never an outburst of "No, don't touch that!" in the classroom.

Ah, but how about in real life? Yes, it does get tricky to maintain a Montessori like calm presence about everything, especially in a world of vehicles, power tools, and other dangerous things.

Since touching, tasting, squeezing, biting, watching, listening, shaking, and grasping are primary routes to discovering the world around them in these early years, our task is to help them go about this process!

So, here are some suggestions to try steer your child's touching and testing towards good and helpful activities for children under three:
  • Provide a touchable environment at home. No breakables, no glass tables, and no access to electrical outlets and similar hazards.
  • Put together a low shelf full of Montessori equipment (see our earlier posts for DIY, which will save you tons of money) such as
    • the Imbucare set (shown in my May 15th post Hand Eye Coordination and Grasping Practice) -- these are fantastic DIY candidates or Amazon wish list items
    • Soft blocks in a variety of shapes
    • Hard building blocks
    • Dressing Frame Sets (another earlier post on Practical Life Material)
    • Three shape puzzles
    • A Mystery Bag full of delightful and toddler or infant safe objects such as soft toys, a smooth large pebble, a soft squishy beanbag, a feather, and a small book.
    • Children's picture and word books as well as more difficult children's books for you to read aloud to your child.
    • And other tactile and friendly items!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Montessori and Language Development for Infants and Toddlers

As you work with your child to develop sounds, words, and sentences, you can consciously increase your use of descriptive words and phrases to enrichen your child's language environment.

Using descriptive language with an infant or toddler is not always an intuitive thing. It can be tempting to use simple words and phrases, omitting more difficult vocabulary and sentences, so it is important to think through the process so that you use correct phrasing and great descriptive words when you speak with your young child.

Many parents who observe a Montessori class for children in this age group for the first time are struck by the level of vocabulary used in the classroom. From the equipment itself complete with rectangles and spheres to social skills interaction, the goal of a Montessori teacher is to provide a well-rounded language environment in addition to the beautiful equipment and furnishings.

    For example:
  • Use full sentences with concise and descriptive vocabulary when you speak with your child. For example, a "the blue cup" can be described as "the blue ceramic cup" and "the red cup" can be described as "the red plastic cup".
More on Montessori and language development for infants and toddlers.