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Learning to Read the Montessori Way


Why is learning how to read easier for one child and difficult for another?  Let’s look at what it takes to be able to ascertain the skills needed to learn how to read.  Reading is not an automatic function of our brain.  Although we are born to speak, we are not born to read.  According to neuroscientist Stanislas Dehaene, it actually requires a connection between two sides of the brain.  Children need to be able to recognize objects and stimulate the language circuit in the brain.

Sound games and sound awareness begins early on as the children listen to us speak and begin to imitate sounds.  When the children begin in the primary (3-6 years) environment they begin to fine-tune their auditory training as they work with a variety of materials.  Awareness of sound is an important skill for reading.   Children develop their visual acuity through the work of materials such as the geometric cabinet, and they begin learning the letters through a multi-sensory approach.   Research shows that learning letter sounds through a sense of touch, such as the sandpaper letters, leads to better decoding skills and later reading skills.

Once the children have made the connection of the sound to the symbol, they begin to actually write phonetic words before being able to read the words.  Simultaneously, the child is practicing the skills to fine-tune their ability to construct letters on a page.

Through the interactions of a variety of these specialized materials in the Montessori environment, the child’s brain goes through a transformation and new connections are developed.   When this occurs—a result that cannot be forced and is only realized through the work with the materials- there are numerous connections made.

Full Language development is the ability to read the words communicated on paper as well as understand the message that is being sent.   By providing a variety of hands on activities that help the brain distinguish objects, shapes and faces and activities that stimulate the language circuit in the brain, Montessori provides the tools necessary for a child to learn to read.

Research for these finding can be found in The Montessori White Papers, volume 2, by Laura Flores Shaw, MS.



Image Credit: Montessori Academy

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