I just can’t believe that Maria meant teach­ers not to talk to the chil­dren in their class­rooms. There seems to be a pre­vail­ing so-called ‘Montessori train­ing’ that advis­es teach­ers of babies, tod­dlers and 3–6 year olds to just sit back and ‘observe’.

How on earth can chil­dren learn their lan­guage? It’s even more impor­tant when babies and young chil­dren are being con­signed to ‘Montessori school­s’ which are in fact full day­care – that’s 9–10 hours a day 5 days a week. If the ‘teachers’ in these facil­i­ties aren’t talk­ing to the babies and young chil­dren we may have found the cause of so many speech delays only ‘discovered’ when chil­dren reach the age of 3!

A friend of mine com­ment­ed on our fam­i­ly ‘habit’ of using ‘real word­s’ in our con­ver­sa­tions when my old­est son was prepar­ing for the SAT at age 18. She felt cer­tain that he would do well on the Eng­lish por­tion of the exam – he did. He has also become an author and speak­er in var­i­ous gen­res with a very inter­est­ing and clear com­mand of language. 

Even with tod­dlers who aren’t say­ing a word, young chil­dren with obvi­ous speech imped­i­ments and delays and specif­i­cal­ly a 6 year old with PDD/NOS (on the autism spec­trum) my use of lan­guage and assump­tion that they can under­stand and respond appro­pri­ate­ly to me elic­its their coop­er­a­tion EVERY TIME I am in their company!!

How can any­one believe that lan­guage isn’t a pow­er­ful tool for bring­ing about coop­er­a­tive behav­iour from infants and chil­dren of any age.

Not talk­ing to babies and young chil­dren in mod­ern west­ern soci­ety is a crim­i­nal act. I can only com­pare it to the treat­ment of babies in Chi­nese orphan­ages. I’ve heard that babies are chained in their cots, two to a cot with their bot­tles hang­ing close enough for them to drink, one ‘caregiver’ to every 25 babies.

What’s the dif­fer­ence in the west­ern world if we also don’t talk to our babies?

The chil­dren in the ‘casa de bam­bini’ that Maria Montes­sori opened were impov­er­ished but I believe not near­ly to the extent of the chil­dren in the mod­ern US ‘schools’ that car­ry her unli­cenced name as a mar­ket­ing tool.

I can’t imag­ine an Ital­ian house­hold where there wasn’t a lot of conversation!