Children under the age of three are in various stages of language development and the adults in their lives have an influential role in this crucial part of childhood. Through meaningful conversations with our little ones we role model how to conduct respectful conversations, correct the use of grammar and we assist in expanding their vocabulary. While we talk they absorb not only the sounds we make but notice the movement of our mouths, and the tone and volume of voice, and they are keen observers of the facial expressions and hand gestures we make. The conversations we have with our young ones set the pace for their self-perception and feelings of belonging. We need to consider how, when and what we communicate with them; are we mostly instructing? Do we encourage feedback? Do we include them in everyday life conversations or only focus on topics revolving around their lives?
Montessori playgroups offer wonderful opportunities for meaningful communication between adults and children. The prepared environment includes materials to assist in expanding vocabularies, such as our sensory nature basket containing items of varying textures, temperatures and dimensions. Naming the textures (rough) as well as the item (bark) while you explore them connects vocabulary with the tactile sense. Our playgroup also offers opportunities for counting, sounding out complex words, and identifying different parts of an object such as; the head, trunk, legs and tail of an animal.
Modelling grace & courtesy is also part of language development as we demonstrate making respectful requests, using polite phrases and responding kindly when faced with a problem. By exploring activities with or alongside your child you can share the excitement when they have achieved something, assist when they become frustrated and build on a stronger relationship. We are blessed with beautiful families who use these opportunities to the fullest and who set great examples for new participants to observe.