When do you start reading aloud to your Montessori child? The answer is simple: as soon as possible! Maria Montessori believed that the sensitive period for language development is between birth and age six. It’s never too early to start!
At Sandwich Montessori we always encourage parents to read aloud to their children, and we found some great tips to read to children from infants to toddlers and kindergarteners.
Reading Aloud to Infants and Toddlers:
Begin by having the baby sit on your lap, your arms around them. Full body contact promotes the positive emotional aspect and bonding of reading aloud.
Around 6 months of age, you’ll find that babies become more interested in teething on the book. Offer a small teething toy to keep them occupied during your reading sessions.
Around 8 months of age, babies become more active. You’ll find they enjoy turning the pages. Encourage children to do so when it is time. This helps develop active listening skills as they begin to anticipate the end of the page.
Around 12 months of age, babies are able to listen and point to objects on the page. They also begin to make animal noises (moo, oink, baaaa) on cue. Encourage interaction when you can.
By the time they start walking, it might be harder to get your child to sit still. Choose your reading times wisely, perhaps before a nap, and enjoy snuggling up.
Begin with picture books, with relatively few sentences per page. Then, gradually add books with more text as your child matures.
In The Read-Aloud Handbook, storyteller Jim Trelease offers these suggestions when reading aloud to children at any age:
Remember, reading aloud does not come naturally to all people. It is a skill that needs practice and development.
Expecting children to sit still and be passive is not always the best choice. Sometimes kinesthetic activity will actually help them listen actively and more attentively than if we insist on them sitting still. Children in a Montessori classroom sometimes color, draw, knit, or sew quietly while being read to aloud. This keeps their hands busy and their minds alert.
Read with lots of expression. Change your voice when reading dialog. Adjust your pace – slow down when the story is suspenseful or speed up when it’s exciting. It might sound silly to you, but children really enjoy a story with a lot of emotion and inflection.
Encourage older children to read to younger ones in the home. This is often encouraged in the Montessori classroom.
Reading aloud to children facilitates their readiness for formal reading instruction in four areas: oral language, cognitive skills, concepts of printed words, and phonemic awareness. Development of these skills provides a strong foundation to support literacy development during the early school years.
Adapted from NAMC– The North American Montessori Center, originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training.
Looking for Montessori-friendly books for your child? Check out these links for some of our favorite Montessori books for babies, toddlers and preschoolers:
“I love you” may sound different around the world, but the meaning is the same. From China, to France, to Russia, to Brazil, and beyond, this charming board book features “I love you” in ten different languages. Tapping into the emotions that parents feel for their children, the rhyming text is accompanied by sweet artwork that depicts different cultures around the world.
Hands can do all kinds of things! A rhyming text with eye-catching color photos offers just the encouragement young children need to explore their world—hands on.
Children will have fun learning the names and colors of the colorful and nutritious fruits and vegetables shown on each page of this board book. Bright photos featuring a diverse array of children enjoying healthy, delectable foods will inspire other youngsters to try new foods.
Carmelita loves to greet everyone in her colorful neighborhood. There are people from so many different cultures! They all like to say hello too, so now Carmelita can say hello in Spanish, English, French, Japanese, and many other languages. And her dog, Manny? Well, he seems to understand everyone, and gives a happy "Woof!" wherever he goes.
Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora's eyecatching collages are full of kid-friendly details like colorful storefronts, pigeons and an ice cream truck, making Carmelita's neighborhood fun to explore. Emphasizing the rich diversity of America's neighborhoods, this simple portrait of a child's day provides a great introduction to the joy of language.
There once was a pebble on a rocky shore. It was small and round and nearly smooth.
Amid a seascape dotted with endless rocks, one pebble yearns to be special.
Can you find the pebble?
Susan Milord's clear prose and exquisite collages offer a timeless message about finding one's place in the world.
This gorgeous book from award-winning artist Sylvia Long and author Dianna Hutts Aston offers children a beautiful and informative look at the intricate, complex, and often surprising world of seeds. Poetic in voice and elegant in design, the book introduces children to a fascinating array of seed and plant facts, making it perfect reading material at home or in the classroom.
You can find a list of 75 more books for Montessori kids from The Montessori Notebook.
Don’t miss out on the benefits of Montessori for your child. Your child will gain unique learning experiences and big developmental strides.
1. Your child will gain confidence with custom, hands-on learning.
2. Your child can learn at their own pace, awakening their spirit, imagination, and passions.
3. Your child learns cooperation and community with multi-age classrooms.
4. Your child will develop a lifelong love of learning.
5. Your child will learn independence.
6. Your child will develop with the learning style that is best for them.