From their first grunts and coos, it seems like children never stop making noise on their journey towards speaking. So what place does silence have in all of the verbal communication happening?
Maria Montessori describes an experiment in silence she ran in one of her first classrooms:
“One day I had the idea of using silence to test the children’s keenness of hearing, so I thought of calling them by name, in a low whisper…. This exercise in patient waiting demanded a patience that I thought impossible.” from The Secret of Childhood.
What she discovered, and many Montessori guides after her have implemented, is a “Silence Game” that children relish. To play, the children sit silently and wait for the teacher to whisper their names. Then, they walk ever so carefully to sit next to the teacher. When everyone is sitting next to the teacher, the entire class might have a conversation about what they heard during the silence. Was there a clock ticking? Any birds chirping? Stomachs grumbling?!
Beyond an appreciation for their environment, children also learn the important lesson of control! Games like this one require a child to control their body, moving slowly, which over time leads to better muscle control overall. The child is capable of this control.
The “Silence Game” is quite extraordinary. Children love the challenge of this game and enjoy working as a group to finish it successfully. Just think, there is no reward to the game other than the joy of being silent as a class.
Our world is incredibly noisy. Ambient noise like TVs, radios, or traffic sounds are everywhere, not to mention the buzz or ring of mobile phones.
Consider what silence might give your child: the ability to focus, an increased ability to concentrate, an awareness of her body, and peacefulness. Give the “Silence Game” a try in your family! You never know what you might hear.
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