Phonemic awareness is an important process in learning to read and spell. Phonemic awareness enables children to hear, identify, and manipulate small units of sound that can differentiate meaning. For example, separating the spoken word “cat” into three distinct sounds requires phonemic awareness. National studies have found phonemic awareness improves children’s word reading and reading comprehension, as well as helping children to spell. It is the basis for learning phonics. In a Montessori classroom, children learn the phonetic sounds of the letters before they learn the alphabetical names in a sequence. Though they may come to school already knowing the names of the letters, the sounds of the letters lay a vital foundation. The phonetic sounds are given first because these are the sounds they hear in words that they need to be able to read. The children first become aware of these phonetic sounds when the teacher introduces the consonants with the Sandpaper Letters. The individual presentation of language materials in a Montessori classroom allows the teacher to take advantage of each child’s greatest periods of interest. Language instruction is an ongoing process. The children are presented with work over and over until the brain makes the “connection”. Your child also hears sound lessons being given to others throughout their day. As we know, the child’s brain at this age is an incredible organ. Your child is hearing other lessons and observing the work of others even as they walk through the classroom or as they are engaged in another work. Amazing, isn’t it?! I am always in awe of a child’s mind!
Writing, or the construction of words with the moveable alphabet letters, nearly always precedes reading in a Montessori environment. Gradually the children learn the irregular words, sight words, words with two and three syllables, phonograms, and silent e words by using various moveable alphabets that highlight the lessons being given. The Montessori Method lays a strong foundation in the use of phonemic awareness, phonetics and decoding. Every child works at their own pace. Your child is given innumerable learning opportunities that stretch and challenge their mind in the Montessori classroom. Remember, all children learn at their own rate. The teacher’s motto is “present…present…present”! The beautiful and oh-so-absorbent mind of the child will definitely “explode” into reading when the child is ready! The guidance of the teacher, as well as the support of the Montessori materials and language activities, make the road to reading fun and inviting for your child!