YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED: What is the Montessori approach to reading? Similar to Steiner?

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"At one year of age the child says his first intentional word…his babbling has a purpose, and this intention is a proof of conscious intelligence…He becomes ever more aware that language refers to his surroundings, and his wish to master it consciously becomes also greater….Subconsciously and unaided, he strains himself to learn, and this effort makes his success all the more astonishing." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 111)

While many approaches to education do recognise the importance of a language-enriched environment and of exampling diverse vocabulary for the young child, Montessori differs greatly in a few ways.  The Montessori method takes great advantage of the observed ease of learning that a child under the age of 6 has for acquiring language. While the child is engaged in seemingly spontaneous games and activities, the curriculum is actually quite formal and structured in its approach to ensure the child develops the right tools for each stage of language acquisition.

One particular point of difference is that the hand is prepared for writing from an early age (anywhere from 2.5 – 3.5 years) and is mechanically ready to produce the sounds for constructing a story when the joy to do so arrives! Writing or composition (initially constructing with wooden letters) actually occurs before reading in the Montessori curriculum. This process follows the natural development of the child, but also supports the child’s attachment and drive to communicate, in so much as their first experiences are of their own storytelling, rather than the reiteration of somebody else's tale!

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  • Rebecca Grugan
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