Literature & Language Arts
Clarity and Sophistication in Thought and Communication
Word Study Work in Lower Elementary
Six- to nine-year-old children are eager to understand language in context. They love playing with words, especially if they can do so with peers! We leverage that playful, joyful eagerness in the Word Study program of Montessori Lower Elementary. We guide children in taking apart words to identify their components—and set them free to find many types of words to which they can apply their skills.
Children learn about affixes (suffixes and prefixes), compound words and word families. In each topic, we get children started with a limited introduction to a few examples (select suffixes, a few sample compound words, some root words) then encourage them to embark on their own work. This open, exploratory approach encourages children to engage actively, to persist—in contrast to close-ended assignments such as worksheets, which imply that once complete, the work is done. As the elementary years are social years, children often work together in group, and take great delight in sharing their newest word discoveries with each other, or quizzing each other on the words they have learned.
Word study helps children acquire many skills:
Grammar in Upper Elementary: Aid to Creative Writing and Rational Arguments
In Montessori Upper Elementary, students deepen their study of grammar. Instead of looking at words in isolation (e.g., “this is an adjective, this is an adverb”), the attention shifts to the relationship of words within sentences.
Nine- to twelve-year-olds in Montessori Upper Elementary thus acquire tools that help them to:
Throughout the program, we ensure that students apply what they learn, that they see the value of grammar as an aid to improve their creative writing and their thinking skills. For example, once a student realizes that pronouns must have a clear antecedent to be understood, they can be on the lookout for vague pronouns in their own writing. They can ask themselves, “do all my pronouns have clear antecedents?”
We thus teach grammar as a powerful tool for clarity in communications. By explicitly teaching sentence diagramming, we enable students to, in Montessori terms, isolate the difficulty—to focus on how the English language works, to practice writing with precision and editing with purpose. Thus, we give students an appreciation for the power of the English language—and equip them to be skilled writers, who have at their disposal a well-practiced, intuitive grasp of how to write (and argue!) logically.
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