Writing in the Montessori classroom.
Where does it begin?
How does it progress?
Our favorite Dr. Maria Montessori described writing as a complex task involving both physical and mental capabilities: lightness of touch, the ability to adapt the hand to an amount of space given, coordination of movement, isolation of sound, visualization and recognition of symbols. In addition, she emphasized that children must develop self confidence AND the desire to write- the desire to combine sounds with symbols to form words.
What Dr. Montessori termed an “EXPLOSION” into writing fascinated her. Through her observations and close work with children, she found that children are so well prepared in the Montessori environment that when they do experience the natural urge to write, they are more successful. This writing process occurs through guided discovery where the directress indirectly prepares the child to write, so “the child comes away with the impression that he/she has discovered writing.”
This INDIRECT PREPARATION in the Children’s House starts with:
- Children telling their own stories and conversing
- Children talking about their experiences
- Children being read to
- Children listening to music
- Children engaged in Practical Life activities that require concentration and sequencing and lead to confidence in the children as they successfully complete purposeful work
- Children being exposed to an abundance of vocabulary in every corner of the environment.
- Children develop finger strength, lightness of touch and control through lessons including: cylinder blocks (knobs), touch boards, touch tablets, sandpaper globe and pouring.
Then the DIRECT PREPARATION begins with lessons:
- Sandpaper letters- Not only tactile, but kinesthetic, visual and auditory as well. The child learns each sound and the shape that each “sound” makes by tracing lightly and repeating to mastery. Hand-eye coordination develops in the process.
- Movable alphabet- This lesson essentially allows for word formation without frustration. The child uses the sound-symbol relationships to build words with small sandpaper letters and then strings them together into phrases and sentences. They vowels are blue; the consonants are pink. They’re connecting letters phonetically to make words before having to write them correctly using pencil and paper. Another step in building success and the desire to write!
- Metal insets- These geometric shapes are used concurrently to trace and develop lightness of touch and create different types of lines for letter formation on paper.
- Cursive writing on paper- Here’s where the EXPLOSION begins! Stories! Thoughts! Observations! Poems! Jokes! Lists! They all come spilling out of the child’s mind through the hand onto the paper.
And, then. The EXPLOSION into reading… to be saved for another day!
For now, examples of Storytime in the Villa di Maria Children’s Houses:
Practicing sounds and letter formation More tactile work with individual letters, focusing on each sound The GLORIOUS MOVABLE ALPHABET! Color-coded vowels and consonants. That Maria Montessori… big brains. Practicing cursive Transitioning into storywriting The stories and illustrations start flowing and flowing and flowing! We’ve got one heck of an animal lover here! The stories lengthen. The personalities expressed!
Several more writing progression examples from our Children’s Houses! To be savored!