Don’t say NO

I’ve been reading The Magic Years by Selma Fraiberg. I am amazed by the effects of negative feedback when children are learning to talk. Saying “no” too much can be a stumbling block to learning. The author writes about a 4 year old, Barbara, who has a vocabulary of a dozen words or so. Her IQ tests indicated that she should be functioning at a much higher level. This is what is observed-

When Barbara entered my playroom she ran around a giddy and distracted fashion, pointing at every object that attracted her attention and crying shrilly, “NO! NO! NO!” She could not even be encouraged to handle objects and recoiled each time I offered her a toy or one of the desk objects he admired. For many reasons, none of them simple, Barbara had never made normal contact with objects. The grandmother who cared for Barbara while mother worked had severely restricted the child’s contacts with objects through stern prohibitions and punishments.

The solution was to let Barbara build loving, human relationships as well as letting her touch objects. Touching objects is “the indispensible phase that leads to language.”

I’m always amazed at Montessori’s knowledge of early learning experiences. She made a child’s world very touchable, and encouraged the joy of discovery. If we can make the preschool years enriching for all children, the educational world would rock!

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