Honoring the Child with
in a Montessori Classroom
By Meghan Kane Skotheim
Phonemic awareness and good phonics understanding allow spelling patterns and sight words to become internalized.
MONTESSORI LIFE ISSUE 1, 2009
IN MONTESSORI CLASSROOMS all over the world, children are immersed daily in communication. Our classrooms are print-rich, vibrant auditory and oral communities. And yet, statistics will note that one child in eight is moving about the classroom, struggling with a languagerelated disability (Shaywitz, 2003, p. 30). Until recently, it was thought that the preschool child was too young for either identification or remediation. So many of us held a wait-and-see attitude toward those children, we instinctively knew were not progressing through the language curriculum in the usual way. It is now clear that we can identify those children at age 4 or 5 as well as fill our shelves with materials designed to help them overcome language deficits. Speaking, listening, reading, and writing are all language activities.The human capacity for speaking and listening has a biological foundation: wherever there are people, there is spoken language. Acquiring spoken language is an unconscious activity, and, barring any physical deformity or language learning disability, like severe autism, all children listen and speak. In contrast, writing systems must be consciously learned. A child beginning to read and write has to discover what sound each symbol in the written code stands for and, in English, understand that the sound may change depending upon the placement within a word (i.e. circus or success). For most of us, mastery of a small number of symbol-sound associations allows us to decode our written word and explode into reading (Brady & Moats, 1997, p. 4). However, for 8 percent of the population, this process is remarkably difficult. Variable and often hereditary, this difficulty in acquiring
and processing written language is...