The Montessori environment is rich in language. Whether through conversation or language games the young child is surrounded by vocabulary and the sounds of the English Language. At our schools we use a phonetic approach to writing and reading. Phonics is a method of teaching reading and writing by developing the ability to hear and identify sounds of the English language.
The Montessori Approach to Early Education prepares children for word composition and reading through the use of our curriculum materials in five areas of the classroom. For the young child Practical Life offers practice, not only of body and hand coordination but focus and concentration as well.The Sensorial area develops discrimination of shapes and sounds through the children’s deep practice with the hands-on material. These are two areas where a three year old child would focus their attention as they grow in their ability to make a sound-symbol recognition. During this time period they are working with the Sandpaper Letters to learn the shape and sound of each letter, hearing that words are made up of sounds, and refining their ability to hear a particular sound in the front, end, and middle of a word. This is the time when you may hear them repeating sounds as they say the word, “b,b,b, baby.”
Typically four-year-olds work with theMetal Insets,Sandpaper Letters, and the Movable Alphabet to practice and build word composition and writing skills. Once a child begins to compose short vowel words like mat, rug, and hop and shows interest in invented spelling, reading can occur almost spontaneously.With these foundations in place a Montessori a child who reads, works first with three letter phonetic words and continues to achieve fluency in class lessons focusing on phonograms, sight words,parts of speech, and reading.
This summer each of our seven primary classes (ages 3 to 6) are introducing the California Phonetic Reading Program.This long-standing, self-directed program will round out and support ourlanguage rich classrooms. The program allows children to progress along the road to independent reading in a self- paced manner in coordination with other Montessori language materials.
The program presents the phonetic approach to teaching reading with a series of boxes each focusing on a beginning phonetic skill. The boxes contain color pictures and cards isolating a skill.The boxes are organized to teach short vowels blends, consonant skills, and long vowel patterns. The main goal of this program is to teach reading skills in a sequential order and in a self-directed fashion. The boxes, teaching fundamental skills, will be coordinated with the Montessori Compass online record keeping system we will introduce in fall 2014.
Reading skills normally develop so smoothly in Montessori classrooms that children tend to “explode into reading.” They often begin to read back their own writing, their own thoughts, and then soon enough they are sounding out the words of others and reading books. Montessori teachers are trained to teach the young children parts of speech in very meaningful and interactive ways. One favorite work in the class is reading of action words (verbs.) Children can read and perform actions like, jump, eat, dust, and mop. Soon enough they are diagraming sentences and understanding the ‘job’ of each word in a sentence. The children will naturally expand these new skills to interpret the world around them and to develop reading fluency skills.