I am lucky to have discovered Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) from Janet Lansbury's blog
while I was still expecting my first child (and even before I discovered Montessori). What I read on her blog absolutely resonated with me and I believe it strongly aligns with the Montessori philosophy especially in regards to language and communication.
Both Montessori and RIE have similar basic principles: respect of the child, trust in the child's competence and drive to learn, a safe prepared environment (or "yes space") and free uninterrupted play.
When it comes to language during the first year of life, both Montessori and RIE advocate for respectful communication with the child, and communicating with the child as a whole person and not an object. Here are a few things you can do to respectfully communicate with your child:
- Talk kindly with correct language and in a normal tone of voice (no baby talk), using the correct words for things.
- Explain what you are doing or about to do such as "I'm going to pick you up now", "I am changing your diaper".... When we do this the baby knows he is respected and also assimilates a lot of new language. With time they will understand and start helping you like putting their hands through the sleeves.
- Do not interrupt a child who looks content and is not in danger. Ideally prepare a "yes space" so that there are minimal interruptions. They are developing their concentration.
- Listen to them, and after talking to them give them a chance to respond. This gives them the basis for making conversation later on.
- Be present during daily care activities such as diaper changes and feedings. Do not rush through them, they are a great time to bond and connect. As they grow, they can be more and more involved. For example: let them go grab a diaper to help you.
You can also do some simple activities with them to increase their exposure to language. The first one of course is reading simple reality based books to them. See below for more information on books. Other activities are:
- Listen to songs and nursery rhymes.
- Sportscast when they are trying something new and having a hard time such as "I see you are trying hard to roll over" or "you are so close". Then when they reach their goal, as with older kids you can state "you did it, you rolled over". You can sportscast often or little. Personally I do not sportscast too often as I feel it may be distracting (I am one of these people who can not concentrate with music or noise in the background) but I like to do it when they show they are trying hard or having a hard time achieving something.
- Offer very simple choices "do you