LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT IN THE TODDLER CLASSROOM
By The Walnut Farm Toddler Teachers
One of the beautiful aspects of guiding children is witnessing language development. There are many opportunities for this in the Montessori environment. We are always amazed when second semester comes along and children that were only saying a few words at the beginning are speaking multiple word phrases or complete sentences.
“Children learn to understand and use language by listening to and interacting with the people close to them. Adults help children to make sense out of the world by giving them words for objects, for actions and for feelings. Learning to talk comes naturally to most children as they begin to understand that words stand for things and that with these words they can influence the actions of people around them” (Sue Kennedy).
There are many ways to foster the development of communication:
Get down at their level. They will observe your mouth to help them process.
Speak clearly and slowly. Allow time for them to process what you are saying.
Name items in the environment.
Let your child know you are listening. Repeat back what is said. Child: “outside?” You: “You want to go outside?”. Even if going outside is not an option it lets him know you were listening and you understand. “I hear you want to go outside, but it is nap time.”
Talk with your child about what is happening. “We are driving to school.” “I am going to buckle you in.” “I am going to help you wipe your nose.”
If your child comes to you with a toy and wants to engage you can state what you are seeing. “I see you have a red block. You stacked the blocks.”
Ask questions. Make sure it is a simple enough question to which they can respond.
Read often. Point out what is happening in the pictures. Ask questions about the pictures. “What is the dog doing?”
Use positive phrases to give directions. “Please walk.” “Quiet voices.”
Talk to your child in the car. Turn off the radio and communicate with each other.
Limit screen time.
Model appropriate language. Remember they are always absorbing their surroundings.
“Words are bonds between men, and the language they use develops and ramifies according to the needs of their minds. Language, we may say, grows with human thought” (Maria Montessori).