How Montessori Teaches Reading

The Montessori Method of education is a unique pedagogical tool that promotes holistic development in children through organic means of learning. 

From specifically designed Montessori Materials to a systematically organized Montessori Prepared environment, Dr. Maria Montessori took all the needs and requirements of a developing mind into account. 

Reading and Writing are among the most integral language skills to acquire in order to lead a life of normalcy in the fast pacing modern world. 

However, teaching children these complex skills to eloquently read and write arbitrary language symbols can be a daunting task for the best of us. 

While Traditional methods of developing reading skills are based on rote memorization, the Montessori Method of education takes a more detailed approach by utilizing sensorial stimulation to form a firm foundation of phonics. 

In fact, the skill of reading in Montessori is developed in children by sparking the child’s natural curiosity and allowing them to guide themselves. 

Like any other educational concept, the Montessori Method of education incorporates beautifully developed Montessori Language Materials that allow children to naturally learn how to read effortlessly. 

If you as a parent or an immediate caregiver want to develop the skill of reading the Montessori Way, look no further. 

Here is a complete guide to teaching children the skill of reading based on Montessori Principles.

Montessori Principles and Reading

The development of linguistic skills from a very young age is paramount in the Montessori Method of education. 

While traditional educational institutions rely heavily on rote memorization as a means of teaching language, the Montessori Method of education takes a more tangible approach.

Reading in Montessori is taught by stimulating the child’s senses by incorporating unique Montessori Language Materials to isolate each concept and spark the child’s natural curiosity. 

These beautifully developed Montessori language Materials allow children to comprehend the phonetic, morphological, lexical, and syntactical elements of a language. 

Children based on Montessori principles learn how to read on the basis of understanding phonics and sounds through the process of encoding.

The timeline of absorbing Language

It is important to remember that humans have the innate capability to absorb and acquire language from stands of arbitrary sounds as young as 12 months of age. 

In fact, Dr. Maria Montessori noticed this unique capability in children between the ages of birth to 6 years, where they are highly susceptible to the stimuli present in the surrounding environment. 

To allow parents and children to fully comprehend this fascinating capability, she wrote the book The Absorbent Mind”. 

Hence, she developed a systematic environment that facilitates the learning of language and other linguistic concepts that allows the child to learn how to communicate on their own. 

Here is a timeline you can follow to guide your child to develop their comprehension of language:

Birth to 6 months:

Between birth to 6 months of age, the infant is highly receptive to the stimuli present in the surrounding environment. 

They are susceptible to auditory stimuli such as sounds and vocalizations produced by family members. 

It is the responsibility of the parents and immediate caregivers to expose the child to as many sounds as possible and allow the child to be part of the family.

6 to 12 months:

During this stage, the child begins to make certain experimental vocalizations to imitate or talk back to their parents or caregivers. 

As a parent, you must now begin conversing with your child as you may converse with an adult and refrain from using “baby talk” or a high-pitched voice.

1 to 2 years:

By the age of 1 to 2 years, the child begins to pick up phonetic concepts and starts to communicate. 

This is a great time to introduce Montessori Toddler Books to promote them to build their vocabulary.

2 to 3 years:

When the child reaches 2 to 3 years of age they begin to experiment with different sentence structures to communicate. 

The expansion of lexical and syntactical knowledge begins between the ages of 2 and 3 years.

This is the time when parents or immediate caregivers can introduce picture cards or short descriptive sentences to expand their child’s vocabulary.

3 to 6 years:

Between 3 to 6 years of age, the child is in their pre-writing and pre-reading stage, during which they hold the capability of learning alphabets as well as phonics. 

The introduction of tangible Montessori Language Materials is pivotal during this stage to allow children to develop a firm understanding of linguistic concepts. 

Promote your child to work in collaborative writing and reading activities with their peers to develop their confidence.

Montessori and Phonics

Phonics is a method of teaching children how to efficiently read and write by developing their understanding of the alphabetical system. 

The Montessori Method of education allows children to learn how to write before they even start reading. 

Once the child can fluently read their own handwriting they can proceed to learn how to read other texts. 

In Montessori, the child is encouraged to fully comprehend and notice each individual sound to learn how to read words. 

Children through the concept of phonics learn how to identify different sound patterns, count syllables, as well as understand rhyme, alliteration, and rhythms. 

So, instead of learning the names and symbols of each alphabet in a language, the child starts by learning about the different phonetic sounds of the alphabet. 

This method of teaching language to the child works wonders for a language like English as it doesn’t follow the complex and often perplexing rules of the language. 

Phonics in Montessori is highly beneficial for reading as it allows the child to deconstruct and construct the word instead of memorizing it.

Learn more about Montessori Phonics:

Montessori Phonics and Reading Materials

Just like any other concept, the teaching of reading in Montessori is facilitated with the help of meticulously designed Montessori Materials. 

Depending on the stage of development of the child, the use of these materials can differ drastically, however, the goal of each material remains the same. 

These materials are specifically designed to develop the knowledge of phonics and reading in children in an exciting as well as engaging way. 

Here are some exciting Montessori Materials developed to teach children the basics of phonics and reading effortlessly:

1. Montessori Sandpaper Letters:

Refer to:  to learn more about this Montessori Material

Sandpaper Letters are the very first concrete materials that are introduced to toddlers which facilitates the education of sound and symbol association. 

Sandpaper letters fashion lowercase alphabets printed on sandpaper cutouts that are mounted on a square wooden tile. 

The Montessori Sandpaper Letters can be found in two shades, pink/red which represents the consonants, and blue tiles which represent the vowels. 

One fascinating aspect of Montessori Education is that it first develops the child’s writing skills and then enhances their reading skill. 

The Montessori Sandpaper letters are no exception, just like any other quintessential Montessori language material, they first encourage the child to engage their tactile senses by tracing the letters or alphabets which can be later mimicked on a piece of paper when practicing writing.

2. Object Cards:

Once the child has mastered the use of Sandpaper letters and understood the concept of phonics, they then progress to using the Objects Cards. 

Here the child is promoted to pair the phonic cards with their corresponding object cards starting with the same letter. 

This material allows children to add real-life meaning to the phonic sounds they have learned in previous lessons.

3. Word Formation:

After the child has successfully learned how to match words and objects with their corresponding sounds, they then promote forming their own words. 

Word Formation is a task where the child is promoted to visualize the words and their meanings by matching the sound of the card and matching it with its corresponding objects.

4. Montessori Pink, Blue, and Green Series:

Learn more about this Montessori Material: 

The Montessori Pink, Blue, and Green Series helps break down English Phonics into 3 simple groups:

  • Short Vowels 
  • Consonant Blends 
  • Phonetic Combinations 

These materials should be used in a sequential order to help the pupil learn how to write and spell in English. 

The Pink Series: 

As the first stage of the three, the Pink Series is comprised of three letters that follow the CVC pattern:

  • The beginning letter(consonant)
  • The Middle Word (vowel)
  • The ending letter(consonant)

Pupils will be able to spell three-letter words like “cat”, “hot”, “bus” or “box”. The letter “y” is not included in this series.

The Blue Series:

Once the Pupil is successfully able to form three-letter words based on the CVC(consonant, vowel, consonant) pattern, they will be introduced to the Blue Series.

In the Second Stage, the Blue Series introduces pupils to blends of consonants with a short vowel sound.

Pupils can create 20 different consonant blends with the Blue Series. Four-letter words like “duck”, “flag”, “rock”, or “bush” can be spelled with the help of the Blue Series. The Blue Series incorporates double consonants like “ll” or “ss”. 

The Green Series:

After the pupil has successfully mastered spelling for letter words with the means of the Blue Series, they will move on to the advanced Green Series.

Once the pupil has discovered almost all the inconsistencies and idiosyncrasies of the English Language, the Green Series is where reading fluency and efficiency begin.

The Green Series incorporates the following components:

  • Major Phonemes like “ou”, “ai”, “ow” or “ie”   
  • Digraphs
  • Hard, Soft, and Silent letters

This Series also consists of Vowel combinations like “a_e” or “i_e” where “_” represents a consonant. This series helps pupils create and spell about 40 to 50 combinations. 

5. Action Cards:

Lastly, the Action Cards are an amazing Montessori Language Material that allows children to associate verbs with the movements they make. 

These noun and verb cards are a great way of learning through collaborative play activities which can also be turned into a group activity where children use the writing medium to identify and guess movements or verbs.

Is Montessori way of teaching reading effective?

The Montessori Method of education sets your child on a path to success, by developing a firm foundation of complex and arbitrary concepts. 

Language, in Montessori just like any other academic concept, is taught with the help of concrete and tangible Montessori Language Materials. 

Reading in Montessori is taught by stimulating the child’s senses by incorporating unique Montessori Language Materials to isolate each concept and spark the child’s natural curiosity. 

Montessori language materials allow children to comprehend the phonetic, lexical, and syntactical elements of a language allowing the child to communicate eloquently and effortlessly.

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