U: The Unknown
Language, or as this momie’s daughter might spell as Langwich, is “the communication by voice in the distinctively human manner, using arbitrary sounds in conventional ways with conventional meanings; speech.” So language is the spoken word and how that gets translated into the written word, well that would be the art of writing and in technical terms spelling.
As children go through an absolute absorption of everything they learn, specifically during the ages of 3-6, known in Montessori as the Children’s House, they should be encouraged to explore their world using their senses. A parent might only measure progress by how well a child can write or read. They might be very concerned to see school work and papers coming home that have backward numbers and letters, with incorrect spelling of words being more the norm than correct.
At first, I too was concerned. Until I began to revel in the discovery of new words along with them and began to appreciate the forces at work behind the scenes. What connections were they really making beyond what was measurable to me? Who decided it would be language, not langwich anyway? Say it referencing both spellings, you’ll find subtle variations at best, nearly the same word. Vowels are commonly missed. Okay too because a lot of them are silent.
Between my 5 and 7 year-old, they both have distinctly different learning paths. Each of them have been exposed to and benefited from Montessori instruction at Augsburg Park Montessori School – one for one year and the other in his third year. My daughter’s more casual approach to spelling and her teachers and our willingness to not force it upon her, has allowed her love of storytelling to blossom. What if we had hovered over and corrected her every word? Probably not so much interest and impending frustration.
My son, on the other hand, an absolute rule follower and borderline perfectionist and whier (my definition for kids who constantly ask why, often accompanied by crying and whining), isn’t ready to delve into storytelling and writing so much because he gets hung up on the correct spelling for everything. However, I don’t worry so much about this. He’s learning in leaps and bounds in his own way.
Thus my point about allowing exploration on the part of the child and rediscovery on the part of the adult. If parents can let go of testing results, comparisons to other children and just support the child developing their own strengths, the rest in theory should come along. Also consider the degree to which all of their senses are engaged and learning on a daily basis. Montessori tools they’ve received at their school allow for a complete sensorial experience – tracing the letter “a” made of sandpaper doubles the learning effect of repeating “a” after the teacher.
A quote from Child of the World, Montessori from Three to Six Years says, “Above all, this work must be offered in a spirit of enjoyment and not imposed. Adults really have to forget the tedious process they might have gone through to learn to read, and to approach it in a spirit of fun and ease.”
I so enjoy when I can be puzzled about a story of Ava’s when I read it, missing the meaning because of incorrect spellings, and she picks it up (even if just revisiting it after months) and breezes right through it. As if to say, duh, can you not read?
Most of her stories coming home from school are a weekly things they do on Monday’s called the “Weekend News.” I recently revisited some of these from her first grade year.
“I wet to a Birthday. hr nam was Alex. We pllayd gams. It was a bech prde. We had fan.”
Translation: “I went to a Birthday. Her name was Alex. We played games. It was a beach party. We had fun.”
Picture 1: “I went hom rit wen I got up. My mom dint wont to git stuk in the snostorm. But she gav me and my brovr a lego set.”
Translation: “I went home right when I got up (must have been after a sleepover). My mom didn’t want to get stuck in the snowstorm. But she gave me and my brother a lego set.”
Picture 2: “I went to Okabogle. Fr a Slepovre. We so a big Bon Fir. as big as my shcool. and we woche Fireworks. We had lots av Fan.”
“I went to Okoboji (Iowa). For a Sleepover. We saw a big bonfire. It was as big as my school. And we watched fireworks. We had lots of fun.”
And there’s many more. I especially liked the one where all it said was, “My Mom wet to Miam” – (Picture 3) that would be the February weekend I went to Miami while they experienced record lows. She accurately dressed me in pants and long-sleeves on the beach. There is no record of what went on at home with daddy. Enough said about that weekend.
So the next time school work comes home like this, delight in the misspellings and storytelling that are the Sekrit Langwich of children. With any luck, you can discover something new that is delishus for grown-ups too!