Montessori preschool is the perfect environment for learning a second language because it naturally provides many of the key elements for optimal language learning:
Real-life interactive instruction
Linguists look for opportunities to provide language in a real-life context, rather than out of textbook pages. In the Montessori preschool Spanish Immersion environment, teachers are responsive to children’s activities. A child who works with the pink tower learns about abstract concepts of size; one who sets the table learns the names of household utensils; another who runs across a classmate’s mat receives vocabulary centered around walking slowly and respecting the needs of friends. Montessori preschool environments abound with words of objects and ideas — from animal figurines to actual screw drivers, from math concepts to the language of good etiquette — all words they don’t have to memorize from a textbook, but rather get to use and hear every day in the classroom! This is Spanish the way it should be learned: through interactive experience.
The many daily activities usually associated to home chores are some of the best-proven methods to refine the child’s motor and cognitive skills. These activities reinforce the mind and body natural process to grow physical strength, body-motor coordination and neuron-bridge-connections. Montessori approach offers children with many activities such as sweeping and mopping the floor, dusting objects, transferring liquids or small objects from one container to another, sewing, buttoning and un-buttoning, setting the table, etc.
This is the primary “tool” the human body uses to learn: sounds, shapes and color, textures, flavor and smells guide our learning process since we are born. Montessori has specific materials and activities designed to challenge every child’s sense and strength it as possible. From recognizing basic shapes without seeing them up to fitting wood cylinders with different sizes on its place; from recognizing different sounds to touching different “hidden” materials; associating forms and colors as they explore the school surroundings in a “scavenger hunt”, etc.
Maria Montessori did not believe that reading, writing, spelling and language should be taught as separate entities. Children are immersed in the dynamics of Spanish language development and the Montessori approach provides a carefully thought-out program to facilitate this process. Oral language acquired since birth is further elaborated and refined through a variety of activities such as songs, games, poems, stories and classified language cards. Indirect preparation for writing begins with the practical life exercises and sensorial training. Muscular movement and fine motor skills are developed along with the ability of the child to distinguish the sounds, which make up language. With this spoken language background the directress begins to present the alphabet symbols to the child. Not only can children hear and see sounds but also they can feel them by tracing the sandpaper letters. When a number of letters have been learned the movable alphabet is introduced. These wooden letters enable the child to reproduce his/her own words, then phrases, sentences and finally stories. Creativity is encouraged and the child grows in appreciation of the mystery and power of language.
Numbers and formulas are present in our lives everywhere we go. Setting a proper foundation at a young age is much easier with a sensorial and self-pace approach like Montessori. Children see and physically handle numbers, sequences, proportions, arithmetic operations, etc. They are able to connect the abstract of the concepts to concrete facts on the matter.