Montessori at Home, The Montessori Method

Translating for Toddlers

“The interpreter is to the child a great hope, someone who will open to him the path of discovery when the world had already closed its doors. This helper is taken into the closest relationship, a relationship that is more than affection because help is given, not merely consolation.”

Maria Montessori. The Absorbent Mind. 1949

Understanding their position

Compare yourself to living in a country where you do not speak the language. Many of us can relate to the frustrations the child could feel when… 

  • things happen to them which are not explained
  • instructions are given hurriedly without being shown
  • being treated by speaking people as if disabled because you cannot speak the language
  • wanting to say something important but you don’t have the words

Understanding their reactions

In these situations I may not have much self-control; I may become agitated, enraged, and begin to cry. That is what happens the child of one or two years old who has tantrums. They are intelligent and know people could understand their ideas, but cannot express them through lack of language. This is a dramatic epoch in the life of the child. (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind)

Do not misinterpret the child expressing their frustration as deviant behaviour. They are facing a great struggle and feel comfortable enough with you to let you know how they feel and ask you for your help to calm down. Imagine how misunderstood they must feel!

One word sentences

Around 1.5 years old, toddlers realise that every object has a name. They use one noun to express a whole idea. Let’s call this form of self-expression one word sentences. These words are also often abbreviated or altered. When we respond to these sentences’ translations, we give the child reassurance that they are being understood and we bring them calm.

Thank you for reading! Let me know if you have any comments or questions!

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