Methodology Of Teaching Writing Before Reading In Montessori

This article explains the Montessori method of teaching writing before reading. It outlines the reasons behind this approach, emphasizing its benefits for child development. The post details Montessori techniques and tools used in this process. It offers insights into how these methods foster early literacy skills in children, contrasting traditional education models. The article aims to inform parents and educators about the effectiveness of the Montessori approach in early childhood education.

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The Montessori method, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, is an innovative approach to education. It emphasizes hands-on, self-directed learning tailored to each child’s pace and interests.

In Montessori classrooms, children explore and learn through interactive materials, fostering a love for learning and independence.

Teaching Writing Before Reading In Montessori

Central to this method is the unique approach of teaching writing before reading. This sequence stems from the belief that children find it easier to express their thoughts by forming letters and words before they interpret the writings of others.

Writing, seen as a natural progression from the child’s innate ability to draw and create shapes, is a more tangible and motorically accessible task for young children.

It engages them actively in learning as they use their senses and motor skills to form letters.

This article delves into the rationale behind this approach, highlighting how it aligns with children’s developmental stages and why it fosters early literacy skills.

What Is The Montessori Approach To Teaching Writing?

The Montessori approach to teaching writing is a child-centered and tactile method. It begins with the development of fine motor skills and sensory activities.

Children first engage with materials like sandpaper letters, tracing letters with their fingers and learning the shape and form through touch. This multisensory approach integrates muscle memory with visual and tactile learning.

Next, children use the Moveable Alphabet, a set of cut-out letters. They compose words and sentences without the initial need for pencil skills. This step emphasizes the creative aspect of writing, separating it from the mechanical skill of handwriting.

Handwriting is introduced gradually. Children practice forming letters using wide-lined paper and child-sized writing tools. The emphasis is on process and self-expression rather than perfect letter formation.

This method builds confidence as children see themselves as writers early on. It also respects their developmental pace, allowing them to explore writing in a supportive, pressure-free environment.

How Does Montessori Introduce Reading To Children?

In Montessori education, reading is introduced to children after they grasp writing, aligning with their natural development. This process begins with phonemic awareness.

Children learn to recognize sounds and associate them with corresponding letters, a skill they develop while learning to write.

The Montessori classroom uses specially designed materials for reading. One key tool is the Sandpaper Letters, which children already know. They trace these letters while saying the corresponding sounds, reinforcing the phonetic basis of language.

Next, children move to simple phonetic words using the Moveable Alphabet. They form words with the letters, transitioning from writing to reading. This hands-on approach helps solidify the connection between the sounds and symbols of the language.

Children are then introduced to language materials like picture cards and labels, matching words to images. They gradually progress to more complex reading materials, including books and sentences.

Throughout, the focus remains on comprehension and enjoyment of reading rather than rote memorization.

Why Does Montessori Teach Writing Before Reading?

Montessori teaches writing before reading based on the natural development of children’s skills. This approach has several key reasons:

  • Motor Development: Young children develop motor skills faster than visual recognition skills. Writing involves physically forming letters, which aligns with their ability to draw and manipulate objects. It’s a more active, engaging process than the passive act of reading.
  • Self-Expression: Writing allows children to express their thoughts and ideas before being able to interpret others’ words. This boosts self-confidence and interest in language.
  • Sensory Learning: Montessori emphasizes tactile and kinesthetic learning. Tracing sandpaper letters and manipulating the Moveable Alphabet engages multiple senses, reinforcing learning more effectively than visual recognition alone.
  • Phonetic Awareness: Writing in Montessori begins with phonetic sounds. Children learn to associate sounds with letters, forming a solid foundation for reading, where this phonetic understanding is crucial.
  • Natural Progression: The Montessori method views writing as a natural progression from a child’s ability to draw. Writing their own words and gradually understanding their meaning is a more intuitive process for children.

How Does Writing First Aid In Understanding Reading?

Writing First Aid In Understanding Reading?

Writing first aids in understanding reading in several ways:

  • Phonetic Foundation: Writing in Montessori starts with phonetic sounds. Children learn how sounds correlate with letters, building a phonetic foundation. This understanding is crucial when reading, as they can decode words based on their sound knowledge.
  • Motor Memory: Writing involves motor skills, where children physically form letters. This muscle memory reinforces their recognition of letters when they encounter them in reading.
  • Confidence and Interest: Children gain confidence in their language abilities by learning to write their own words and sentences. This confidence carries over to reading, where they’re more eager and prepared to engage.
  • Understanding Language Structure: Children learn how letters and words form sentences in writing. This grasp of language structure aids in comprehending written texts.
  • Active Learning: Writing is an active process, engaging children fully. Active participation makes them more involved learners, benefiting their reading skills as they’re more engaged in learning.

What Tools Are Used In Montessori To Teach Writing?

Montessori uses several unique tools to teach writing, focusing on tactile and interactive learning:

  • Sandpaper Letters: These are letters made of sandpaper on wooden boards. Children trace these letters with their fingers, feeling the shape. This tactile experience helps them learn letter formation and phonetic sounds.
  • Moveable Alphabet: A set of wooden or plastic letters that children use to form words and sentences. This tool allows them to practice word construction before they have the fine motor skills for handwriting.
  • Metal Insets: These are metal shapes with knobs used to draw shapes and patterns. They help develop pencil control and hand-eye coordination, foundational for writing.
  • Chalkboards: Small chalkboards are used for early writing practice. The resistance of chalk provides sensory feedback that aids in learning letter formation.
  • Wide-lined Paper and Child-sized Writing Instruments: As children progress, they use wide-lined paper and pencils appropriate for their size. This helps them practice actual writing, transitioning from larger motor movements to finer ones.

How Do These Tools Facilitate Early Writing Skills?

These Montessori tools facilitate early writing skills effectively:

  • Sandpaper Letters: Children trace these textured letters to develop a tactile memory of each letter’s shape. This physical interaction reinforces the connection between the letter’s shape and sound, a foundational skill for writing.
  • Moveable Alphabet: This tool allows children to experiment with forming words and sentences without needing fine motor writing skills. It helps them understand how letters combine to create words, fostering early word construction skills.
  • Metal Insets: Using these, children practice controlling a writing instrument, which is essential for writing. They develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination by tracing shapes and patterns.
  • Chalkboards: The chalk resistance against the board provides sensory feedback that helps children refine their hand movements for letter formation. It’s an excellent transition from larger to finer pencil and paper writing movements.
  • Wide-lined Paper and Child-sized Writing Instruments: These encourage children to practice actual writing with tools that fit their physical capabilities. Wide lines guide letter size and formation, while appropriately sized writing instruments cater to their hand size, making writing more comfortable and controlled.

How Does Montessori Transition Children From Writing To Reading?

Montessori transitions children from writing to reading through a gradual, child-centered process

Phonetic Awareness

Children start with a strong foundation in phonetics from writing. They understand that letters represent sounds, which is crucial for reading.

Word Formation with Moveable Alphabet

After forming words with the Moveable Alphabet for writing, children use the same tool to read them. They’re familiar with these words, composing them themselves, which makes reading them easier.

Matching Words and Images

Children then engage in activities like matching simple words to corresponding images. This helps them associate the written word with its meaning.

Introduction to Simple Books

Once children are comfortable with words and their meanings, they are introduced to simple reading materials. These books often contain words the children are already familiar with, facilitating an easy transition to reading.

Progression to Complex Texts

Gradually, as children’s reading skills develop, they are introduced to more complex texts. The transition is paced according to each child’s readiness and comfort level.

What Role Does Writing Play In Enhancing Reading Skills?

Writing Play In Enhancing Reading Skills

Writing plays a significant role in enhancing reading skills, especially in the Montessori approach:

  • Phonetic Awareness: Writing reinforces phonetic understanding. As children learn to write, they become more aware of the sounds of letters and letter combinations, which is crucial for decoding words while reading.
  • Vocabulary Development: Writing helps in expanding a child’s vocabulary. As they learn to write new words, they are more likely to recognize and understand them when they encounter them in reading.
  • Comprehension Skills: Writing involves organizing thoughts and conveying meaning, which enhances comprehension skills. These skills are directly transferable to reading, where understanding the meaning of text is key.
  • Visual Recognition: Regular practice in writing aids in better visual recognition of words and letters. Familiarity with the shapes and forms of letters while writing makes it easier to recognize and read them.
  • Confidence and Motivation: Writing gives children a sense of achievement. This confidence boosts their motivation to read and learn more, fostering a positive learning cycle.

What Are Some Specific Writing Activities Used In Montessori?

Montessori offers various specific writing activities that engage children in developing their writing skills:

  • Tracing Sandpaper Letters: Children trace these textured letters with their fingers, learning the shape and sound of each letter. This activity bridges tactile sensation with visual and auditory learning.
  • Drawing with Metal Insets: These tools help children practice pencil grip and control. They draw shapes and patterns, developing the fine motor skills needed for writing.
  • Forming Words with Moveable Alphabet: Before they can write with a pencil, children use the Moveable Alphabet to form words and sentences, enhancing their understanding of word structure and composition.
  • Writing in Sand or Salt Trays: Children write letters and words in a tray of sand or salt, which provides sensory feedback and makes the practice of letter formation enjoyable and less intimidating.
  • Chalkboard Writing: Writing on a chalkboard helps children practice writing with larger arm movements, gradually refining to smaller, more controlled movements.
  • Using Wide-lined Paper and Child-sized Writing Tools: As children’s skills advance, they practice actual handwriting using wide-lined paper, which guides letter size and formation, and writing instruments suited to their hand size.

How Do These Activities Differ From Traditional Education Methods?

These Montessori writing activities differ from traditional education methods in several key ways:

  • Sensory-Based Learning: Montessori emphasizes multisensory experiences. Activities like tracing sandpaper letters or writing in sand trays integrate tactile, visual, and auditory learning, unlike traditional methods that rely heavily on visual and auditory inputs alone.
  • Child-Led Approach: Montessori activities are self-directed, allowing children to choose tasks and work independently. Traditional education is often teacher-led, with a set curriculum and pace for all students.
  • Focus on Process Over Product: Montessori emphasizes the learning process rather than the final product. From the start, traditional methods often focus on the result, like correct letter formation.
  • Development of Fine Motor Skills: Activities like using metal insets and chalkboard writing are specifically designed to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, a focus less pronounced in traditional writing instruction.
  • Integration with Other Learning Areas: Montessori activities are integrated with other learning areas, such as language development and sensory skills. Traditional methods often compartmentalize subjects.
  • Emphasis on Individual Learning Styles: Montessori recognizes and caters to individual learning styles and paces, while traditional education adopts a one-size-fits-all approach.

How Does Montessori’s Approach To Writing And Reading Differ From Traditional Methods?

Montessori’s approach to writing and reading differs notably from traditional methods in several key aspects:

Sequence of Learning

Montessori emphasizes teaching writing before reading. This contrasts with traditional methods that often introduce reading first or simultaneously with writing.

Learning through Discovery

Montessori encourages children to discover and learn through hands-on materials and experiences. Traditional methods typically rely more on direct instruction and rote learning.

Child-Centered Pace

In Montessori, children progress at their own pace, guided by their interests. Traditional education often follows a fixed curriculum with a set pace for all students.

Multi-Sensory Approach

Montessori uses tactile tools like sandpaper letters and the Moveable Alphabet, engaging multiple senses in learning. Traditional methods focus more on visual and auditory learning, such as through textbooks and verbal instructions.

Integration of Skills

Montessori integrates writing and reading with other developmental areas, such as fine motor skills and oral language development. Traditional methods often treat writing and reading as separate, distinct skills.

Emphasis on Comprehension and Enjoyment

The Montessori method strongly emphasizes understanding and enjoying the reading and writing process rather than immediately mastering these skills. Traditional methods may focus more on accuracy and proficiency from an early stage.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Teaching Writing Before Reading?

The Pros And Cons Of Teaching Writing Before Reading?

Teaching writing before reading, as practiced in the Montessori method, has several pros and cons:


  • Motor Skill Development: Writing first aids in developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination as children learn to control writing instruments.
  • Phonetic Awareness: It emphasizes phonetic learning, as children associate sounds with letter shapes, which is crucial for writing and reading.
  • Creative Expression: Writing allows children to express themselves creatively, enhancing engagement and interest in language.
  • Confidence Building: Early success in writing can boost children’s confidence, positively impacting their approach to learning.
  • Sensory Integration: Writing involves multiple senses (touch, sight, movement), which can be more engaging and effective for young learners.


  • Delayed Reading Skills: This approach might lead to a later start in reading compared to methods that teach reading first or simultaneously.
  • Overemphasis on Writing Mechanics: There’s a risk of focusing too much on writing mechanics, potentially overshadowing the development of reading skills.
  • Individual Variations: Some children might naturally gravitate towards reading first, and this method could conflict with their innate learning preferences.
  • Resource Intensity: The Montessori approach requires specific materials and a prepared environment, which may not be feasible in all settings.
  • Adaptability to Group Settings: Individualized learning is a cornerstone of this approach, which can be challenging to implement effectively in larger, more traditional classroom settings.


The key takeaways from Montessori’s approach to teaching writing before reading include its emphasis on tactile, sensory learning, and child-led exploration.

This method leverages the natural development of motor skills and phonetic awareness, fostering creative expression and confidence in young learners.

Understanding this approach is vital for educators and parents as it highlights the importance of aligning educational practices with children’s developmental stages.

It offers an alternative perspective to traditional literacy teaching methods, underscoring the significance of individual learning styles and pacing.

This knowledge can help educators and parents make informed choices about early childhood education, potentially leading to more effective and enjoyable learning experiences for children.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why Does The Montessori Method Teach Writing Before Reading?

The Montessori method teaches writing before reading to align with children’s natural development. Writing is a tactile and motor-based activity that children can grasp earlier.

It allows them to express their thoughts and ideas, building a strong foundation in phonetics and fine motor skills. This approach enhances their understanding and readiness for reading.

How Does Writing First Aid In The Development Of Reading Skills?

Writing first aids in reading by developing phonemic awareness and fine motor skills. When children write, they learn the sounds associated with each letter and how letters form words, which is crucial for decoding words in reading.

The motor skills developed through writing also help visually recognize letters and words, enhancing reading fluency and comprehension.

What Are The Key Tools Used In Montessori For Teaching Writing?

Key Montessori tools include Sandpaper Letters for tactile learning of letter shapes and sounds; the Moveable Alphabet, which allows children to form words without needing fine motor writing skills; Metal Insets for developing pencil control; and chalkboards and wide-lined paper for practicing actual writing.

These tools engage multiple senses and support the holistic development of writing skills.

How Does The Montessori Approach Differ From Traditional Education In Teaching Writing And Reading?

Montessori differs from traditional education’s child-centered approach, where writing and reading are taught through hands-on, sensory-rich activities.

Writing is taught before reading, focusing on individual learning pace and interests. Traditional methods often introduce reading and writing simultaneously, with a more uniform pace and structure for all learners.

What Should Parents And Educators Consider When Implementing Montessori’s Writing-Before-Reading Approach?

When implementing this approach, it’s important to consider each child’s learning style and pace. Parents and educators should provide a supportive environment with the necessary Montessori tools and allow children to explore writing and reading at their own pace.

Understanding the philosophy behind this approach and being patient with the child’s developmental stages are crucial for its successful implementation.


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