Written language can be acquired more easily by children of four years than by those of six. While children of six usually need at least two years to learn how to write children of four years learn this second language within a few months.
When a child first begins to read independently, we never ask him to read aloud. To read a word while you are, at the same time, saying aloud the word you have just finished decoding, is a very complex operation and can cause a lot of stress–certainly not enjoyment.
Sand Paper Letters
Sandpaper Letters are used to practice beginning letter writing and the sounds of the alphabet because reading requires one to know the sound the letter makes, not its name. The letter names are not difficult to learn once the child is reading. The teacher traces the letter once or twice and repeats the letters sound. The teacher passes the letter on to the child and gives some examples of the letter sound in a word. The child repeats the process tracing and saying the sound.
When the child first begins to write we do not make corrections. We “teach by teaching, not by correcting.” Instead we teach all the necessary skills through activities which are completely unrelated to the creative writing effort, as indirect preparation.
A stimulating environment full of spoken language from birth directly prepares children for the world of written language. Writing is a product of children’s desire for self-expression, reading is a natural outgrown of their interests. With the Montessori materials, children will develop an extensive vocabulary and be able to express themselves with assurance
Dr. Montessori analyzed the movements, which are connected with writing and developed the Metal Insets for directly preparing the child for handwriting. The metal insets exercises strengthen the three-finger grip and coordinate the necessary wrist movements. The exercises also advance proficiency in lightness of touch and evenness of pressure through drawing activities.
Writing is an expression of one’s thoughts, an extension of one’s inner language. In a Montessori classroom Writing usually precedes Reading. It is immensely fascinating to a young child to see her own thoughts made visible when composing Words with the Movable Alphabet, or dictating a picture story, a poem or a letter to the teacher.
Writing is actually less complicated than Reading, which involves the comprehension of another person’s thoughts. Many children quite naturally assume that they can write – and start to write on their own using a highly creative method called Invented Spelling. – They write as they speak; or better: As they hear. Since English in not completely a phonetic language, misspellings are the result, but these mistakes will be corrected eventually as the child learns more about spelling and grammar rules.