Friday, August 31, 2012

Surprise and Speak Start with /s/ (Part 1)

There's a boy in my class this school year, in here I'll just call him D. When I first met him and his parents during the summer (when they were making enrollment inquiries), his parents described him as very inquisitive. His mom said that he would follow her around the house and ask about just about everything--"why you open the door", "why you close your eyes", etc. They did tell me however, that this incessant inquiry seems to be exclusive to the home because he tends to be shy when in other settings. True enough, since that day I first met him and up until now, I haven't heard him speak. I've heard him shriek in delight at the playground, I've seen his mouth move when we sing songs in the circle, I know he picks up lessons quickly (based on the 2nd period of the Three Period Lesson that we have in Montessori where the child will just have to point or handle something and not verbalize the names); but I have not heard him actually talk (in this side of the world, we've been in school for almost 3 months now).

I have read about Selective Mutism (SM) before. And the key is, just as with anything Montessori, is to respect the child. Since SM is related with anxiety, the focus should be, among other things, on helping the child feel at ease with his surroundings and social settings; not on getting the child to talk.

I'm glad because D seems to enjoy school. He does the actions to the songs we sing in the circle, he smiles, he listens to presentations and stories, he works and plays with his classmates. And he works with me. And every day, I present him with different learning concepts--recently it's the phonetic letter sounds (yes, letter sounds).

Delightfully surprised I was last August 22 when we were doing the letter sounds and suddenly, D articulated the sound for the letter /s/. He didn't exactly "talk", but I asked him what sound does the letter /s/ made and he offered me an answer! It's a simple "sss", but, oh, how preciousss!


  1. We have a child who has selective mutism. She didn't speak at all at nursery. It took her several weeks before she spoke at school. The first time we heard her it was on a trip to the seaside and she started giggling with her friend. My colleague, who was sitting in front of her gently and humourously joined in the joke and by the time we got home she was shrieking and shouting. We were stunned. Since then she has had quiet days and chatty days but has never entirely withdrawn. That was 15 months ago.

  2. This is a great story! And I love how you handled his situation. We seem to always be faced with new challenges while teaching and the children rely so heavily on how we react to them. This story makes me so happy. :)
    Adobe Montessori

  3. We also had a child in our school with SM. Basically we treated her like the other children, without forcing her to speak.

    After a few months she spoke to the other children in the class, and then a month or so later she started speaking with school staff.

    From then on she participated in class and played with her classmates just like everyone else.