For those that couldn't make our first parent education workshop of the year, "Preparation for Literacy", and for those joining us from around the world, we thought we'd put together a few of our notes from the event. If you have comments or questions, we would love it if you would leave a response below.
Alright, let's get started. A few words from Charlotte Wood: "In the Montessori classroom, nothing is stand-alone. Literacy does not simply begin with, “Okay, letʼs learn to read and write now.” Your child has been preparing for literacy since their first day in the classroom in both subtle and overt ways."
"Everything is intentional. Even how our shelves are laid out gives the hint of literacy -- for the most part, we work left to right, top to bottom. As you well know, every child begins with work in the Practical Life area, with things like pouring, the dressing frames, and polishing. Not only are these skills that the child needs for life in the Montessori classroom and at home, we reiterate the left to right, top to bottom pattern whenever possible. This is where our work of preparing the childʼs hand for holding a pencil begins. Spooning, dusting, even the delicate grasping of a tiny pitcher all encourage the child to hold things in a precise way, the pencil grip."
"As the child moves into the Sensorial area, there are many new materials that are preparations for later academic work. Again, we use the pencil grip to hold things like the Cylinder Blocks, knobs in the puzzle maps, the Geometry and Botany cabinets. When the child works with the shapes in the geometry cabinet, and particularly with the cards, they are working on visual discrimination, remembering a shape, identifying subtle differences that form identity, and that is precisely what learning the Sandpaper Letters hinges on."
"After the child has started writing and perhaps reading, they return to the Sensorial and Practical Life areas with renewed interest. Perhaps they scrub a table with precision and vigor, again with the left to right, top to bottom pattern, after sitting quietly and focusing on a big reading work for much of the morning."
"Or they take out a work like the Color Tablets, long ago mastered, but this time they write the names of the colors with the Moveable Alphabet or with a pencil and labels. They label the Bells high, higher, highest, low, lower, lowest. We can also begin music literacy at this point, naming the bells as middle to high C, composing music the same way they compose a story about what they did this weekend. There are environment labels the child can read and place around the room, or write themselves if theyʼre interested. Everything in our classroom has a name, and the child now gets to read and write those names as their interest in and ability for literacy grows and flourishes."
One of the most important points to note, and to reiterate, is that in Montessori, we start with the sounds of the letters, before the names of the letters. Sounds are the first introduction children have to literacy, and we believe it's the strongest path to learning how to write and read. We'd love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.