When It All Comes Together
Thoughts & Reflections
Amazing things happen every day. Some days, we’re lucky enough to capture them.
All the pieces come together, and a child is suddenly reading. It’s as though they have always read. It comes so naturally, the decoding, the recognition, the wresting with phonetics, the “aha” moment.
But it’s not all-of-a-sudden. It’s been building. We wrote about The Path To Literacy previously, and it’s worth a moment, if you’re interested in how literacy grows in the Montessori classroom.
There was something about this moment, which was an amazing reminder of the many other things which are happening, that make literacy possible.
Watching his hand manipulate the pages, turn just one of those thin sheets. Not get frustrated when you can’t get one, just being patient.
Patience. Reading is hard stuff. What’s that letter? Okay, what sound does it make? Got it. What’s the next letter? Put them together. Is that a word I recognize? Not so much? Try again. And again and again and again. The identifying and decoding is tedious and challenging before every word becomes instantly recognizable.
Attention to detail. Noticing the difference between t and l. When a word sounds familiar and when it just doesn’t sit right. Is this a word I’ve tried to decode before, or is this brand new?
Task persistence. Not giving up because this is new and challenging, or because b and d just won’t stick, or because, meh, maybe reading isn’t so important. Stick-to-it-ivness.
Even sitting still in the chair. Not wiggling, not falling over. Sitting peacefully, so your brain and eyes and hand can engage in incredible movement.
Where is all this learned? It cannot be turned on like a light switch, okay, reading, here we go internal skills and learned character traits! It’s go time! They’re fostered, nurtured, cultivated from the very first days. From sitting still and placing five pieces in a puzzle on your first day, to threading a wiggly string through a bead, to picking up lentils from pouring dropped all over the floor.
From carefully figuring out where those ten cylinders belong in the Cylinder Block, not quitting until they’ve all found their home. Great. Let’s do it again.
Grading colors, finding a red that’s slightly darker than the last one, a cube incrementally smaller.
Cleaning up all the water after washing dishes. Not when you want to be done, because a chair is available for snack, but when the job is actually done.
You’re not just getting ready for reading when you practice your letters. You’re getting ready for reading, for self-education, for a lifetime of learning, in every moment, with every material, through every interaction.
Written by:Charlotte Wood