You are hereEarly Childhood / Reading
For a complete description of the phonics we teach in our 3-6 program, go to our California Phonetic Reading Program.
The development of language in a Montessori school includes speaking reading, and writing.
The child first works with pre-reading activities such as sets of pictures for vocabulary development; materials for practicing going from top to bottom and left to right; pictures to place in sequence; objects or pictures to discriminate similarities and differences; and the Sandpaper Letters to learn the sounds (not the names) of the letters by using the three senses of sight, touch, and hearing.
As soon as the child learns the sounds of c, s, m, t, r, and a, he/she starts to form words, cat, mat, rat, sat. This is a very exciting moment for the child (as well as for the teacher) for the child now realizes that sounds blend together to form words. The child continues using the Sandpaper Letters to learn more sounds. Each time the child learns more sounds, additional words may be formed. The child progresses through the phonetic reading program using Sandpaper Letters, Movable Alphabets, pictures arranged by phonetic skill, and word labels.
After the child is able to read several short-vowel words, the concept of a "sentence being a group of words that tells us something" is introduced. Now the child is presented with books written according to phonetic skills, and the child is on his/her way to becoming a reader!
Each child has a card on which he/she keeps track of which reading boxes he/she has done for each phonetic skill. The child is shown how to get out his/her card, see what box comes next, go to the shelf and get out the correct box, place the work on a mat, and begin the exercise. This reading program allows the child to practice being self-directed and independent. The teacher checks the child's work when it is complete. Word lists are sent home, showing the parent which words the child has recently learned along with the respective phonetic skill.
Along with the phonetic words, the children are presented with the "mystery" or non-phonetic words, such as "said, gone, put, who" and other words that do not follow the rules. "It is a mystery to me," says the teacher. "I don't know why we say these words the way we do! They break the rules!" These non-phonetic words are taught using a method called "the Three Period Lesson." Any of our teachers would be happy to show our parents how to do a Three Period Lesson.
Many developmentally-appropriate books are available in the classroom. There is a reading area in which children may sit and look at the pictures of a variety of books on different topics, often trying to find words they can read in the books. There is also a selection of books with words written using the various phonetic patterns which they are able to read.
In addition to books, there are numerous teacher-made materials in the classroom for practicing reading. A great variety of pictures to match to words and sentences are available, many of them giving children an opportunity to use reading as a tool to find out about numerous topics of interest.
Books are read to the children, usually either before or after going outside for snack and play. Listening to stories is an important part of learning to read.