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Language Arts: Major Areas and Teacher’s Role Term Paper


The purpose of Language Arts is to develop the child’s oral and written language, as well as to teach the child reading and paying attention to her or his handwriting. All these activities should be perceived by the child as an adventure or an enjoyable task, not as a burden. Moreover, Language Arts classes consist of different activities that correspond to the major areas of the Montessori curriculum.

Major Areas and Teacher’s Role

The four major areas of the Montessori curriculum include practical life, sensorial life, culture, and mathematics (Lillard, 2016). Some teachers and educators also regard music and arts as an essential part of the Montessori curriculum. Each of the areas is focused on specific tasks and exercises for children. For example, in the Practical Life area children learn to perform such activities that they will later need on a daily basis, i.e. cooking, sweeping floors, washing hands, gardening, etc. (Machado, 2015). Language Arts can help children describe the activities they have been doing in the Practical Life area. The Sensorial Area is focused on the child’s sensorial abilities; it is obligatory to engage the five senses of a child in the performance of a task. During sensorial tasks, children learn how to classify, separate, and combine things (Machado, 2015).

The Mathematics Area is linked to the Sensorial Area, as the numbers and quantities that children learn to recognize are presented not as abstract definitions, but as items that children can hold and feel (Gordon & Browne, 2016). Mathematical operations are also supported by different materials, for example, cards and tables (Gordon & Browne, 2016). Using their language skills, children learn to name and recognize mathematical symbols, as well as calculate.

The Culture Area often includes geography, history, zoology, science, and other areas that help children understand the world that surrounds them. As the founder of the Montessori schools believed that students needed to understand and be familiar with other nations’ traditions and beliefs to be a “cultured person”, the Culture Area provides children with information about other countries and what is unique about them (Montessori, 2015). Many of the materials presented in this area require the use of language skills, e.g. children learn names of the continents, cities, animals that live in different parts of the world, names of peoples and nations.

The teacher’s role is of extreme importance as children learn through their directress about the language and how it can be used. The teacher’s role is to introduce language to children by using different methods, e.g. poetry or books or conversations. When a child is trying to engage in a conversation with a teacher, the teacher is obliged to listen and help, as this conversation might be the foundation of the child’s ability to understand and use language (Taylor, 2013). When a teacher is working with children who are not able to speak yet, she is allowed to talk to them, repeat words and sentences, as children absorb the language and learn to recognize its patterns.

Language Arts Materials

As decoding letters might be difficult for children, specific materials are presented to students to ensure that they are capable of linking the sound with a symbol. For example, if a child’s name begins with a letter B, the child is presented with the sandpaper letter B; thus, the child can recognize the symbol that is linked to the sound. Without this activity, the child would not be capable of learning how to read because she would not know what sounds are related to these symbols (Lapp & Fisher, 2011).

When children are introduced to all sandpaper letters, exercises with the moveable alphabet can be performed. With the help of the moveable alphabet, a child will be able to compose words or phrases that she or he likes or that the directress dictates. As reading is a highly abstract activity, games with the moveable alphabet will help the child understand “the rules” of reading and how it is performed.

Writing and Reading in Classroom

In Montessori schools, writing is taught before reading. Sensorial classes develop the child’s motor skills, whereby the child also learns how to hold and use objects similar to pens and pencils. Therefore, later, during the writing classes, the child does not experience many difficulties in writing; moreover, Montessori approach discourages any rush during these classes so that children are able to learn patiently and calmly.

Use of metal insets during classes is one of the most popular activities for children because they can also talk to their friends during it, but at the same time, they have fun tracing shapes and writing different words (usually names) with it. Another interesting combination of reading and writing is copying sentences from books. However, this activity is efficient only if the child has well-developed writing skills (Machado, 2015). Another activity that children also find interesting is writing on a chalkboard. Although this activity requires skill, children learn quickly how to hold a stylus. Some children prefer writing words themselves, while others include communication in the task and ask their friends or the directress to dictate words.

Reading activities are often performed in the form of a game or as reciting of poetry or reading a book in the reading corner. A game that can be used for reading activities requires children to use cards: one of the children can read an activity silently and then perform it to other students. The students need to understand what was the word behind this activity (e.g. jump, read, sing, etc.)

Listening and Speaking

Listening and speaking is nurtured by different actions of the directress and students during class. For example, specific topics are encouraged to be discussed, such as holidays, birthdays, cultural objects, pictures, etc. Children are also encouraged to talk about their interests, books they have read in class or at home. Moreover, special interest table can also be used to support communication. It is important to remember that the directress needs to speak to children on their eye level – this method will help attract attention, but it is also used to establish an intimate eye contact rather than an intimidating one (Montessori research and development, 2013). Only if this type of contact is established, the child is ready to listen.

To nurture listening skills, the directress needs to pay attention to her tone of voice. It is necessary to speak in a quiet, respectful tone; as children are used to loud voices, a low voice might be perceived as something new and unexpected. Moreover, as children are used to listening to adults’ commands in a loud voice, calm tone of the directress will also help them understand that they are supported and respected (Montessori research and development, 2013).

Writing and Reading

It seems reasonable to point out that one of the unique features of the Montessori approach is that children learn writing before reading. Although it might seem odd, it is actually a more efficient way of learning, as “reading follows spontaneously several months after writing has begun” (Lillard, 2016). Children are taught the thumb-index finger grip that will be later used to hold a pencil. Once a child is ready to read, it is important for the teacher to be engaged in these activities as well, read to and with the child (O’Donnell, 2014; Kirkham, 2010). Moreover, it is also important to introduce the child to lowercase letters, although some parents might find that writing in upper case is easier.

Direct and Indirect Aims

Like any other major area in a Montessori classroom, Language Arts also have direct and indirect aims. The direct aims of Language Arts are to teach children reading, explain them concepts of communication (oral), and teach students to express themselves through writing (Curricular report, 2012). The indirect aims include the development of students’ intelligence, improvement of their concentration abilities, fostering the ability to follow a process, teaching students how to solve problems, work independently, and complete full task sets.

References

Curricular report. (2012). Curricular report. Bella Mente Montessori Academy. A California public charter school. Web.

Gordon, A. M., & Browne, K. W. (2013). Beginnings & beyond: Foundations in early childhood education. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Kirkham, A. (2010). Helping your child in their language development. Web.

Lapp, D., & Fisher, D. (2011). Handbook of research on teaching the English language arts: Co-sponsored by the international reading association and the national council of teachers of English. London, UK: Routledge.

Lillard, A. S. (2016). Montessori: The science behind the genius. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Machado, J. M. (2015). Early childhood experiences in language arts: Early literacy. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Montessori research and development. (2013). Language Arts manual. Web.

Montessori, M. (2015). The Mass explained to children. Laren, Netherlands: Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company.

O’Donnell, M. (2014). Maria Montessori. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Taylor, M. (2013). The Oxford handbook of the development of imagination. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

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IvyPanda. (2020, September 11). Language Arts: Major Areas and Teacher's Role. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/language-arts-major-areas-and-teachers-role/

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IvyPanda. "Language Arts: Major Areas and Teacher's Role." September 11, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/language-arts-major-areas-and-teachers-role/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Language Arts: Major Areas and Teacher's Role." September 11, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/language-arts-major-areas-and-teachers-role/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Language Arts: Major Areas and Teacher's Role'. 11 September.

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