Understanding the Montessori Phonics and Reading Approach

By Valerie Tan  :

This article describes the learning approach of Montessori level of teaching and how its learning principles complement the modern methods of teaching through reading via the phonics technique.

Many pre-schools and kindergartens bear the name Montessori in their description. In actual fact Montessori refers to a mode of education and learning which was developed by Maria Montessori in the year 1897. This learning approach focuses on each child’s independence and within reasonable limits, an acceptable degree of freedom. A key recommendation is to have a classroom of mixed age and mixed sex children with learning encouraged and directed rather than instructed by a trained Montessori teacher. Learning is achieved through the natural process of discovery rather than instruction. This educational environment favors an independent approach and children are encouraged to be independent, be able to do things for themselves which includes freedom of movement for the children in a structured learning environment.

kinderIn today’s schools, a common method of learning is the phonics approach. Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly by recognizing the sounds that each individual letter makes. Once these sounds are identified they can combine the sounds of the letters into combinations which make up the words being read. This blending of the sounds that letters make to create words is fundamental to the blending approach of phonics. Children learn to read and de-code new words using this method rather than memorizing lists of words by rote.

The Montessori reading curriculum leans heavily on this phonics foundation and has three key components; a strong basis in phonics, comprehension based on visualizing, and learning to read for meaning using contextual clues. Montessori phonics and reading combines the sensory approach of the learning methods pioneered by Montessori with today’s focus on phonetic learning. Children learn to encode and bring the words together as a whole before they decode them to actually read. Montessori phonics and reading materials and learning aids are divided into age and developmentally appropriate activities and learning objectives. These focus on children understanding how the sounds represent symbols and how these symbols combine to create words.

newThe Montessori methods focuses on developing children’s gross and fine motor skills and this complements the learning of reading.  Montessori phonics and reading includes tracing the letters in various materials such as sandpaper which draws on the sensory approach common to the fundamental learning principles of Montessori education. Similarly, children are taught to hold a pencil and control it to create the letters required for reading and writing.

nurseryWhen children have mastered the individual phonetic sounds they are ready to combine them into two or three letter words; cat, mat, pig, dog, etc which are common sounds and easy to master. Pictures of phonetic words are introduced and form the building blocks of word creation. Once the child is comfortable with two and three letter word building, the natural progression is to matching reading cards with the objects and building four or more letter phonetic words. Once this is achieved, short sentences and phrases can be introduced, specially selected reading books which combine visualization and clues as pointers and reminders. Montessori’s approach complements the phonetic method of teaching reading skills.

The author of this article recommends Brainy Child Montessori if you are looking for child care centre in Singapore

Sourced from: Tan, Valerie. 2015. “Understanding the Montessori Phonics and Reading Approach.” Storify, storify.com/ValarieTan/understanding-the-montessori-phonics-and-reading-a.