“Written language can be acquired more easily by children of four years than by those of six. While children of six usually need at least two years to learn how to write children of four years learn this second language within a few months.”
A stimulating environment full of spoken language from birth directly prepares children for the world of written language. With the Montessori materials, children will develop an extensive vocabulary and be able to express themselves with assurance. Children work with picture cards to expand their vocabulary. Later, children learn to match the picture with the word of the object.
Montessori preschoolers learn letters first by their sound rather than their name. This phonetic approach helps them sound out words at an earlier age. Letters are presented in lower case first which also aids early reading. Once a child knows the sounds of a set of letters, they then are guided to put the sounds together to form three letter words. Once they have mastered this skill, they start reading longer words and learning sight words.
Sand Paper Letters
Sandpaper Letters are used to practice beginning letter writing and the sounds of the alphabet because reading requires one to know the sound the letter makes, not its name. The letter names are not difficult to learn once the child is reading. The teacher traces the letter once or twice and repeats the letters sound. The teacher passes the letter on to the child and gives some examples of the letter sound in a word. The child repeats the process tracing and saying the sound.
Dr. Montessori analyzed the movements, which are connected with writing and developed the Metal Insets for directly preparing the child for handwriting. The metal insets exercises strengthen the three-finger grip and coordinate the necessary wrist movements. The exercises also advance proficiency in lightness of touch and evenness of pressure through drawing activities.
Children first learn writing letters by tracing them in sand, and making letters out of play dough. They then use the movable alphabet to “write” words they can sound out. Together with the metal inset work and pincer grip exercises, this prepares them for writing letters and words. Children then start start a journal where they write a sentence about themselves or something they like and illustrate it with a picture they draw or cut out of a magazine.
Click here for video demonstrations of Montessori lessons.