From the moment a child is born, her communication skills start developing. Human beings can adapt to the environment they are born into. Between 0 to 6, children’s Absorbent Mind helps them to assimilate language in the environment, and it is done effortlessly. There is a study done by Dr. Itard who worked with Victor, the Wild Boy of Aveyron in France who was raised by wolves from 1801 to 1806. He documented that he was able to restore him to recognizable humanity, but Victor never learned to make speech. Later, Dr. Itard’s method was successfully applied to the special education. His work also had a major influence on Maria Montessori’s work in her development of training methods for normally developing children.
Language lessons start on the first day a child walks in the Montessori classroom. Our Montessori classrooms are language rich environments. Having child’s spoken language as a foundation, the children in primary build solid writing and reading skills. In elementary classes, they explore the history of language, grammar, and syntax, and their functions in sentences. They learn great deal about communication in elementary as they become naturally more social, showing more interest in what and how their friends talk. They may hear and use words parents may not approve of at home. We need to show understanding in our children’s renewed and growing interests to be a part of social groups. At the same time, we need to set reasonable and firm limits and remind them that they always need to be respectful of others. Maria Montessori said, “Language is the greatest thing in humanity: It is the phenomenon which allows social life to exist.”
For older elementary and middle school students, the digital technologies offer new and different options for expression. They need the same support from us in learning the skills for digital communication and interaction that they needed in developing spoken language. Our children need explicit instruction in safe practices for the use of technology as they want to be socially connected with their peers. Our children live in a world in which empathy is harder to develop because there are fewer human interactions. Grace and courtesy now need to be extended to our online communications.
Submitted by Yoshi Hansen