By Lauren Hodges
Maria Montessori created a strong foundation for primary education based upon the notion that children from infancy through the age six have absorbent minds. In early childhood, a child learns through real hands on experiences. Children during this time of development have a sensitive period for the acquisition of language. They take in the totality of their environment; each sound is associated with a concept which supports the internal development of spoken language. Considering the idea that Montessori education promotes global citizenship, early childhood is the best possible time to expose children to second languages as they are easily able to grasp new concepts within their sensitive period for language.
As Dr. Montessori pointed out, while learning a second language can be difficult for adults who have outgrown the sensitive period for language, young children can quickly acquire fluency with accurate pronunciation and intonation due to the language sensitivity of their absorbent minds. Singing Spanish songs and playing movement games in Spanish regularly in the Casa (Primary class) promotes confidence within the children to comprehend and associate the actions with new vocabulary. At this age children naturally learn through movement and, therefore, playing games at home that support basic Spanish vocabulary such as identifying colors, numbers, etc. can exponentially support your child’s expanding proficiency in acquiring a second language.
The study of language is an essential feature during the first few years of a child’s education. During this time, the home environment and classroom becomes an integral part of your child’s language learning. Early childhood is an optimal time to expose your child to a second language as well as supporting an expanded awareness of the global population. In the Montessori classroom we offer puzzle maps and geography folders that are associated with each continent. From the very beginning children have the opportunity to learn the names of each country. The journey through the three year cycle offers young children a global outlook on the world and a deeper level of understanding that we are all truly connected. In this precious time of learning and growth your child is becoming a compassionate and peaceful pioneer and leader of the future.
“Education should no longer be mostly imparting knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentials.” Maria Montessori