My daughter has some sensory integration issues and has a very short attention span. It was improving but the preschool class she was in last year was too chaotic and it seems it's gotten worse. What kind of activities do you recommend I do to help her sit and attend longer.
There are two important aspects to child development and Montessori philosophy that you can take into consideration to help your daughter increase her attention span.
The first is interest: it helps to find out what your child is most interested because she will spend more time with a material that has objects (and in a subject) she is most interested in.
The second is skill level: you will need to continue to work with and observe your child to find out what skill level she is at for each activity. I call it "emerging skill" or skills.
When a child has an emerging skill, she is more likely to choose to do and repeat an activity that utilizes the emerging skill. Maybe her new, emerging skill is cutting paper, maybe she loves cats... a perfect activity to help increase her attention span is cutting out a simple cat drawing, with the letter "c" or the word "cat" on it for language...
So if you combine interest with emerging skill, you have hit gold!
You need to play Montessori detective!
And more often then not you are detecting what she is not interested in and what is too hard or too easy for her.
If learning letters is your current goal, and if writing letters with corn meal did not work, ask yourself: Is she interested in letters, yet? Does she like (or hate) sandy textures? Is she able (have the skill) to trace a letter by looking at it?
Let's say she does show an interest in letters and the sounds they make. Let's say she does not like sandy textures but she likes dough-like texture. And let's say she can make a letter by looking at it. Try making a letter with play dough.
But what if she cannot make a letter by looking at it and this skill is too hard, then have the letter written down for her to place the play dough on top of.
But maybe she does not show an interest in letters, yet, maybe she loves numbers and counting. Start with numbers.