According to Webster’s dictionary, language is defined as “the system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other. Communication and language are innate human tendencies. In other words, all children come into this world hardwired for learning language. As Maria Montessori said, “To talk is in the nature of man.”
Because the development of language is so deeply intertwined with the physical and intellectual development of the child, a broad exposure to language is paramount. More on language development
Tips for communicating with young grandchildren:
- Speak and listen to your grandchildren often
- Use correct pronunciation and articulation
- Avoid baby talk, use correct vocabulary
- Encourage your grandchild to communicate with others and to listen with appropriate respect
Can you teach your grandchild to read? Click here
Sounds and Letters
The concept that letters represent speech sounds is called “the alphabetic principle.” In Montessori, children are introduced to letters as symbols and their corresponding sounds (as opposed to the names of the letters). Children trace sandpaper letters with their fingers and simultaneously pronounce (or listen to a teacher pronounce) the sound of that letter. Children see and feel the shape of the letter while learning its sound. In this way, the child learns to identify the phonetics of the alphabetic symbol and to practice writing the letter. Will your grandchild learn cursive? Click here.
More tips to help them:
- Create opportunities for your grandchild to feel the alphabet with three dimensional letters
- Put emphasis on the sounds of words (please put the fffflowers on the t-t-table)
- Create a discovery bin or bag filled with small items all starting with the same sound
Words and Sentences
Once the alphabetic principle is mastered, children learn to build words by putting together individual letters and their phonetic sounds. Visual representations of the letters, such as alphabetic cards, are associated with the phonetic sounds, which are spoken aloud. For example, “b-a-t” is buh, aah, tuh.
- Find items around your house that you can sound out with your grandchildren. Start with three sound words (mug, cat, fish etc.)
- Use sounds to play hop scotch. Draw an item and say each sound as you hop
- Purchase or make a couple sets of letters for free word building
The trick to such easy and natural learning is in the timing. Children under the age of six have amazingly absorbent minds. Additionally, children between two and a half and five years of age experience “sensitive periods” for learning vocabulary, letter shapes and sounds, writing and reading. A sensitive period is a critical window of opportunity during which children absorb specific concepts naturally and almost effortlessly.
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Your grandchild can learn to read while holding your hand. Purchase your copy of the Royal Road to Reading to learn how. Click here