Montessori assumes a totally different way of teaching reading by teaching
writing first. This approach is far more effective and efficient because by the time
you learn to read you've already learned to write. Traditional education
approaches reading through an intellectual process. Montessori begins teaching
reading long before the intellectual process is ready giving it a great head start.
Montessori education begins with the training of the senses. That is why there is
tremendous emphasis on practical life and sensorial materials in the classroom.
None of it "appears" intellectually stimulating but it is the basis of success in
Montessori embraces all of the senses (and trains them all) to serve the
acquisition of reading. Washing dishes, scrubbing clothes develop large motor
skills. Polishing, spooning, sorting develop small motor skills. Both are essential
for success in learning how to write. Then your child moves onto the sensorial
materials. Each material develops different senses again reinforcing those
needed for writing but also developing the senses for acquiring the sounds of
The reading process starts with the writing - one letter at a time, one sound at a
time. It is not your ABC's but the phonetic sounds that create the building blocks
for reading. The use of the senses with the sandpaper letters enhance the total
process. Each sound, each letter is slowly marinated in to the child's senses -
audibly, visually, tactilely. This is fun - not pressure. Recognizing letters and
signs along the street add to the child's delight in the process.
They begin to put the letters together with the moveable alphabet. They begin to
sound words out one sound at a time. They begin to write them on chalkboards
and on paper. They begin to discover the power and sounds in the marks they
make on paper. They begin to read without pressure because the reading has
had a long gestation period through the practical life materials, through the
sensorial materials and through the writing exercises.
The hard work of learning to read has a magical element in Montessori. At first
you don't and then you do and you have a written record to verify the magic. You
can read without learning how to write but you cannot write without learning how