How to Teach Writing & Reading the Montessori Way

One of the questions I’m asked the most often over on Instagram is the order of lessons for teaching your child to read.  That’s kind of a trick question, because using the Montessori method, writing is actually taught first.  I put together all of my previous posts about learning to write and read the Montessori way, so I’ll link them all here in the order in which they should be presented.  Click on each photo for a detailed blog post on the lesson.

If you aren’t accustomed to the Montessori method, it may surprise you to hear that we don’t begin with actual letters at all.  In fact, the Montessori child never even needs to learn her ABCs — at least not the way they are traditionally taught.  The Montessori method teaches the child to write and read phonetically — the way the letters sound — rather than wasting time on the names we have given the letters.  But BEFORE you even bring out those letters, begin with sound.

Around age 2 or 2.5, you can prepare your child’s ear for writing and reading using sound games — such as I Spy to identify initial sounds.

These sound games can also be done with ending sounds [like in rhyming words] and middle sounds.

In addition to first preparing the ear, the hand is another part of the body that must be prepared before undertaking writing and reading.  This is done in the Montessori classroom through a series of fine motor exercises:

You can also use the metal insets for these purposes if you have a set.

The final step before introducing the letters individually is to match words as patterns.

NOW is the time to introduce the sandpaper letters with initial sounds.  There are several different options in terms of which order to use when presenting the letters — but it’s NOT the way the ABC song goes.  You can see the order I was trained in by clicking the photo above.

Once the sandpaper letter sounds are mastered, it’s time to start writing!

And then just you try to stop your child from reading.  It will be impossible!

The Montessori method contains three general stages of learning here, called the pink series…

…the blue series…

…and the green series!

Each of those series includes working with words of various difficulty levels according to phonetic exactness.  The child will first write those kinds of words with the movable alphabet, then will read them in word booklets, phrases, and sentence strips.

And then you’ll have a writer AND a reader!

Here’s some more posts I’ve written on this topic: