Well, there are a few key reasons:
1. Understanding comes before memorization
Montessori schools introduce children to the sounds of the letters before the names of the letters. The reason why this approach is taken is because children can hear the sounds without having to memorize the names.
Growing up, many of us actually learned the exact opposite way. We were first introduced to reading and then writing, starting by memorizing the letters:
a, b, c.
When this approach is taken it becomes easier to learn how to read, before you learn how to write, because you have trained yourself to memorize letters and their combinations, words.
Reading before writing is based on memorization.
Montessori believed, however, in a different way. She believed that understanding should come before memorization, and that if one was to fully develop an appreciation for language, we must first start with letter sounds:
ah, buh, cuh…
There’s a lovely quote from Montessori that goes something like this, “Everyone can read Shakespeare, but how many people truly understand it?”
2. Learning to write is learning to read
Ironically, as a child learns how to write, they are also learning how to read. By working to put letter sounds together, sounding out the letters as they go along, children are starting to write.
As they compose these letter sounds, what starts as a few sounds put together turns into a few words, which becomes a sentence and then a paragraph and pretty soon you have a story.
Why does this process work so effectively? Well, because as Montessori says, it’s a natural extension of how children learn, first understanding sounds and later memorization their names. They are not looking at words trying to remember what they are, let alone what mean, they are coupling sounds together in their head to create
This activity is popularized by the famous Montessori moveable alphabet, which you can read more about by following the link below to the encyclopedia. The method is also employed in Intro to Words, which you can check out by downloading the app from the App Store now.