The Montessori Reading Curriculum at LMS

The journey of learning to read which a three or four year old undertakes starts by being introduced to sounds – the shape of a letter and its corresponding sound. The Montessori reading curriculum is sequentially designed and teaches children how to read effortlessly. Each child is taught the mechanics of how to put sounds together to build words – which is called “writing” in Montessori terminology, before s/he is taught how to join sounds to “read”.

The young child is introduced to the sandpaper letters (lowercase consonants first) to associate the initial sound of the letter to the various pictures and sound games. At this early stage of learning, we do not introduce the child to the name of the letter. We typically begin with the easy consonants s,m,t,p,c and then gradually add on new consonants until the child has mastered them all. We use a variety of activities to reinforce the knowledge with repetition.

When your child brings home the strips with the sound(s) s/he learnt in class, please set aside a few minutes each evening to review those to make retention and recall at school easier. Please also note that when reviewing the sounds do not inadvertently attach a u sound to the consonant. Hence, for a picture of a snake – the child will identify only the hard s sound and not su – nake.

Once the child can successfully recognize all initial consonants, then the child’s attention is drawn to the ending or final sounds. Since our focus is only on listening to the sounds, we do not pay attention to the correct spelling at this stage. For example, the ending sound in apple is “l” and that’s what the child hears and will tell us – which is accurate. We play a variety of games and have several activities for final sounds mastery. A unique Montessori equipment we introduce to the child at this time is called the “movable alphabet”. This is a box with 26 compartments. Each compartment is designated for a letter of the alphabet and holds about 5-7 letters each. Hence there are 5 – 7 a, b, c etc. letters in the movable alphabet. When the child is learning to recognize sounds, we introduce the movable alphabet. At this time the child is given some pictures and s/he will match the correct initial sound to the picture. A similar exercise is performed with final sounds. Once the child can easily recognize both, the initial and final sounds, our next step is to introduce the short vowels, beginning with “a”.

The next step is an exciting one! The child is shown how to identify the initial, middle and final sounds in three letter phonetic pictures to “build words” with the movable alphabet. We typically begin with three letter phonetic pictures such as cat, hat, mat, bat etc. The child hears the sounds in the correct order and takes out each letter from the movable alphabet box in the correct order and voila! The child is learning to spell – which is called writing in Montessori.

Once the child has gone through a variety of “a” word building exercises, we then introduce words written on paper. We typically begin by writing a three letter phonetic word b-a-t and encourage the child to join the sounds together and see what happens. Since the child was well prepared with the moveable alphabet, the child spontaneously and easily says “bat”. This is reading in Montessori. This is a big day in the child’s life! The child’s life long journey into reading starts today!

After the child can read a few words with the adult, s/he is then ready to proceed on to a variety of word lists independently – all easy and all phonetic to “sound out”. This identical process is repeated to teach the other four vowels.

When the child has completed the entire set of the short vowel word lists, we introduce the “Bob Books”. These early reading series complements the Montessori reading curriculum perfectly. Having seen the other kids in the room read these books, it’s a big day when the child begins reading “Bob books”! This is indeed a very exciting time for the child as well as the parents!

We realize that parents are extremely excited when their child begins to read the Bob books; however, we urge caution for the budding reader. At this time, the child is only reading three and some four letter phonetic words and learning the concept of reading short sentences.

Expecting a child to start reading early beginners and similar books which are readily available is too confusing and difficult. These readers have a variety of blends, phonograms or sight words in addition to phonetic words which is very challenging for a budding reader. Although they are short and simple, they may actually impact the child negatively, because s/he is expected to know, read or memorize certain words without actually learning them. This unfortunately makes the child resistant to practice reading at school and s/he becomes uninterested in the classroom reading material impeding progress.

We introduce puzzle words, blends, phonograms at a later date when the child is fluent in phonetic reading with the early Bob Books. We urge you to wait before giving your child these early readers so that s/he can actually learn to read and spend a lifetime immersed in the joy of reading.

Please feel free to check in with us anytime you have questions about your child’s reading progress.

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