My big brother Bear can water the strawberries.
He gets a watering can from the shelf.
He fills it with water at the tap.
He caries it carefully with two hands...
... to water the strawberries.
I'm going to have a go Mum - there's a watering can for me!
I can do it too!
I recently posted about Bear's newly recognised speech issues.
I've been thinking and researching a lot about how to progress from here.
As always time is precious and my ambitions tend to make me feel overwhelmed, frustrated and guilty. So I have started by thinking carefully through my goals.
I want Bear to know that he has valuable ideas that are worth expressing
I want to help him to communicate clearly to others
To teach Bear to say all the normal speech sounds
Tempting but not essential Goal:
Teaching bear to read and write following Montessori methods
This is what I've come up with:
1. Identify his strengths and weaknesses
- Bear can say these sounds: m, n, h, ng, w, d, y, b, a, e, i, o, u
- his language and vocabulary are good for his age
- he is patient with me when he is trying to communicate
- he is quick to learn new concepts and skills
- he is independent and tries to correct himself
- Bear can't say these sounds: p, t, g, k, f, l, sh, ch, s, z, j, r, v, th
- he refuses to undertake a challenge if he thinks he will fail
- he hates to be told what to do or how to do things
2. Proceed with modified Montessori games and activities
The sound games using sounds Bear can say (listed above)
Bear was struggling to play the sound game because there were so many sounds he wasn't recognising. It was too hard for him so he wasn't engaging with it. There are lots of sounds he does say and when I play using those sounds he succeeds much more often and engages much more successfully.
It takes a lot more careful planning to find objects that start with his sounds! I'm having to stretch my brain and hunt around the house for things like 'y' - 'ute', 'I' - 'Izzy', 'n' - 'knife', 'e' - 'aeroplane' or 'u' - 'undies'. It's so much more time consuming than taking a tray of something off the shelf and just getting starting.
I think it is worth the effort to keep playing. My hope is that by increasing his awareness of the sounds in words he will be better equipped to correct his own speech.
I bought the sandpaper letters a long time ago and I have been waiting patiently for Bear to succeed with the sound games before starting with them. It feels like that day might never come! So I am not going to wait until Bear has mastered the sound game. I am going to start gradually introducing sandpaper letters with sounds he knows or is working on. It makes a lot of sense to use the visual and motor aspect of the sandpaper letters to reinforce the sounds we are trying to call his attention to.
There are a lot of other less direct Montessori activities and material that sit in the domain of "language". There is also the sensorial materials which build a robust foundation for these complex skills. I am gradually trying to make these available for Bear as well. I'll post about them as I get to them because I think they are fascinating and lots of fun.
3. Work with the speech pathologist to increase his sounds
We're seeing the speech pathologist fortnightly for half-an-hour and working on homework between visits.
My important homework is to talk and listen to Bear and "recast" words that he says incorrectly. Recasting simply means using the incorrect word in conversation back to Bear as much as possible. For example:
Bear: Look at that big 'ain
Me: Wow that is a big train. It's a huge train. It's like your toy train at home.
We also practice saying a set list of words a set number of times a day. We play games with it - collecting buttons for each word, or looking at funny pictures of the words, a puzzle piece for a word... There is no right or wrong. I'm not supposed to correct him. The objective is exposure and practise. I can see the benefit of that regular time already. He is listening carefully and trying sounds out in ways he hasn't before.
I always have an alarm ringing in the back of my head saying: "don't make it tedious!", "keep it fun!", "watch him carefully!". I feel so nervous about pushing him too hard. I know if I push him too hard he'll flatly refuse to play at all!!
He is definitely in the sensitive period for language because he is participating so willingly. I am quite used to receiving a firm "NO!" from him - but thankfully that hasn't yet. He is actually asking me to play these games with him.
When I posted here I was feeling quite defeated. Quite overwhelmed. I was wondering if this Montessori stuff was really able to work with siblings. Did these peaceful children's communities really exist?! (I have still never seen one in real life). It didn't seem to be working for my children. I was full of doubt.
My faith has been restored. Now I believe that children can peacefully coexist in a shared space. The change has been dramatic! Since I got the environment right I haven't even needed the baby gate to separate them.
What were the key changes?
- A seperate shelf for each child
Having the shelves separate is more for my sake than for theirs. It helps me to notice what I am choosing for each child. It helps me to remember that they need/enjoy different things. It helps me to make sure I am putting out enough for each of them. It also helps them know where to look for something that will be fun to play with.
- A seperate area for each child to play
A comfortable and attractive area next to their shelf makes it easy for them to choose a toy and settle to play with it. Having enough space helps them stay out of each others way so they don't disturb each other accidentally.
- Thoughtfully chosen materials for each child
Bear and Fox are at different developmental stages. They have different temperaments and interests. They have different skills. I try to give them several choices and pay attention to the things that they choose to spend time with. This helps to select which materials to pack away for a while and which to leave out.
I have found that they don't actually need to be physically separated from each other to concentrate on work if they are really interested in it.
The boys have lots of things to concentrate on. Most of the time they are too busy and too focused to bother one another.
I have been particularly impressed how often they choose to play side-by-side. Even little Fox will choose a toy off his shelf and carefully carry it over to sit next to Bear. They actually do like each other and can enjoy each other's company. They just need an environment that helps them do it.
My name is Vicky I am wife to Ranger and mum to two boys - Bear (2) and Fox (8 months). Somehow I stumbled across Montessori and now my goal is to raise and educate my children with a Montessori philosophy in country NSW Australia.