Elementary Happenings and a Highlight on Language

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Elementary has been up to many adventures over the past few months! Many inside the classroom, but a few were outside our classroom walls. For these outings, we visited the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks to learn about butterflies, we ventured on a fall hike at Hobbs State Park, and we held our first night hike.

The night hike was a fun, social and educational event. Elementary families gathered around a campfire. We roasted hot dogs and S’mores. Ms. Mary and I took the elementary children for a walk in the dark while families visited with one another. We looked at the stars and found some of the circumpolar constellations we had studied. We watched mouths spark as we chewed on winter green mints, and we enjoyed the feeling of adventure that only a little walk in the darkness can provide!

Ms. Mary and I offered a parent education session on language in October. We gave parents lessons on parts of speech and sentence analysis. We also discussed the other areas covered in the Montessori curriculum.

The Montessori elementary language curriculum builds upon what the child previously learned in the Montessori preschool years. Elementary children’s imaginations are ready for origins of words, fictional characters and studies of the history of the written language, but they still need physical movement and opportunities to work with didactic material. Montessori stated, “In this more advanced period we continue to afford the children the opportunity to learn through activity of the hand.” (Montessori.) This is because children of this age are still working toward abstraction of ideas.

The child of this age is at a sensitive period for socialization as well; so many materials provide children with the chance to collaborate. Through this understanding of the child’s needs, the elementary language lessons contain elements of “sparking” the child’s imagination, movement, social interaction, physical representations, and many ventures throughout the elementary curriculum for work with writing and reading.

How does the Montessori language curriculum succeed in gaining the child’s interest? First, we introduce children to the “big picture” and then break down each lesson to isolate difficulty. We spark the child’s imagination through the telling of how language and writing came to be. “Whatever is presented to him must be made beautiful and clear, striking his imagination.” (Montessori.) When the children learn about our origins, it inspires them to seek out more understanding and mastery of the written language for themselves, thus catapulting them into the many aspects of language studies.

This curriculum includes studies of oral language, handwriting, reading comprehension, composition, grammar, and word study. Each area is introduced and then revisited again in more depth as the child shows they are ready, causing a “spiral effect” in the curriculum. “When these exercises become familiar to the child, others somewhat more difficult may be presented” (Montessori.) For example: The youngest elementary children are introduced to the verb by reading cards and doing the actions that they read. They then progress to identifying them as a part of speech in sentences and a predicate in sentence analysis. Further, the advanced child may learn about conjugating verbs.

The Montessori elementary language curriculum is vast, layered, and will take a child as far as they are able or willing to go. Montessori knew that young children were capable of advanced work in all areas, if they were given the proper tools to learn them. Through her extensive research and observations, she was able to develop a language curriculum that allowed children to rejoice in their work and not be bombarded by the traditional analysis of language. “Never mind that “awful grammar,” that horrible bugaboo no less terrible than the frightful method once in use…the child will suddenly find himself, one day, in possession of a little composition…And he will be as happy over it as he was when for the first time words were formed by his tiny hands.” (Montessori.)

Happy holidays to you all!

Ms. Lynette