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language mastery
language acquisition
When Is A Child's Sensitive Period For Language?
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Maria Montessori discovered that young children experience sensitive periods for learning. These occur when a child's interest naturally heightens to master a particular skill. Parents who talk and read to their babies notice that babbling soon turns into word formation and words evolve into sentences rapidly!

Maria Montessori's research has revolutionized preschool education. She discovered that the sensitive period for language occurs from birth to age 6. It is during these years that children learn their primary language or languages and also can most easily learn how to read.

Most preschools today primarily emphasize imaginative play. The reading instruction is to be accomplished in K-6 public educational settings. Montessori preschools, instead, offer age appropriate materials to match the child's innate interest in language mastery. Most children learn to read easily in the Montessori prepared environment. This is because Montessori reading materials are created to match the sensitive periods for language.

"One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child." Maria Montessori

The sensitive period for reading is marked by the spontaneous interest in the symbolic signatures represented by the sounds in words. This leads to a naturally passionate interest in the sounds of letters if lessons are presented at the right time. This usually occurs between 3-5. Children are joyfully engaged when working with their teacher using age appropriate materials. Compare this to an older elementary child struggling with reading or spelling found in the standardized curriculums in most public schools. Or consider how much harder it is for an adult to become proficient in a second language when language acquisition comes so easily for the very young!

Montessori identified many sensitive periods that occur between birth and approximately age 6. These all integrate to assist the young child to develop and grow. She discovered these by working and observing young children directly. These sensitive periods represent times of innate fascination, focus and interest: Order, Mathematics, Language, Movement, Writing, Reading, Music, Refinement of Sensorial Awareness, and Grace and Courtesy.

Homeschooling parents can implement the sequential steps to early reading and learn how to meet the needs of sensitive periods. There are many books that can help parents to accomplish this at home. Some are in print and others out of print. Most of these can be found in the local library. Here is a list of suggested titles:

Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori

The Secret of Childhood by Maria Montessori

Learning to Read is Child's Play by Maunz, Mathews and Klein

Montessori at Home! by John Bowman

Montessori from the Start by Lillard and Jessen

Teaching Montessori in the Home by Hainstock

How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Seldin

Montessori Madness! by Eissler


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