― Maria Montessori, Education For A New World
I recently had a NAMC student ask me for a pacing guide, or master plan of the order in which the Lower Elementary (LE) Montessori language lessons should be taught. While NAMC does provide a Mastery Checklist of all the LE language lessons and suggested age levels, we do not prescribe the exact order for the presentation of these lessons.
Since each child is different in both ability and experience, the best way to decide upon the order of teaching anything is to base it on diligent, scientific observations.
If for example, you notice random capitalization in a child’s writing, it is time to concentrate on capitalization rules. If the writing only has a period at the end of a paragraph, rules about punctuation may be in order. Spelling words should be taken from the child’s work, not from a random list, to give credence to the reasoning behind learning how to spell. Reading should be a mixture of leveled readers that the children are able to read and build fluency and comprehension as well as higher level read-alouds from amazing children’s classics to build auditory skills, a love of learning, as well as cultural literacy.
Order of Presentations: Montessori Education Follows the Child
In short, literacy and language should be incorporated in all aspects of the classroom and your presentations. Teaching language as a purely separate subject makes it disjointed, thereby reducing the students’ retention. There is vocabulary development and spelling practice built into the whole curriculum. Reports need to be written, giving practice with sentence and paragraph structure, capitalization, and punctuation. The cultural subjects are a wonderful way to introduce non-fiction reading, which is a huge piece of the current Common Core Curriculum. Language is even part of mathematics. The language of numbers is what makes word problems so difficult for many children later on. By beginning early, you are building a solid foundation for supporting mathematical language in the years to come.
Because of this, there is no set path or order for lessons. This is an important component of Montessori education. We do not teach children according to our schedule; we make ourselves available to teach children when they need a lesson and are ready for it. Conventional wisdom says that we teach all children the same thing at the same time. Maria Montessori knew better. She told us to teach according to the child’s needs and not our own, making learning much more meaningful. When we force children to learn according to our timeframe, we turn them off to learning from lack of relevance or readiness. When we follow their needs, and give them what they need when they need it, teaching becomes a gift and not a chore, since it is readily accepted, internalized, and mastered.
“Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.”
― Maria Montessori, The Advanced Montessori Method
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, December 20, 2013.