“We cannot know the consequences of suppressing a child's spontaneity when he is just beginning to be active. We may even suffocate life itself.” — Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method (p. 88)
Over the last few weeks we have been looking at equality and achievement in literacy as it relates to gender. We know that during the sensitive period for writing and reading (age 4–6) children spontaneously begin to read. By using the Montessori materials designed for learning to write and form words — the Metal Insets, Sandpaper Letters, and Moveable Alphabet — the child has already had exposure to the sounds of the written word. “Indeed, writing prepares the child to interpret mechanically the union of letter sounds of which the written word is composed.” (Montessori, p. 297)
Reading, however, is more than mechanics. It requires fluency and comprehension. The question, then, is how do we keep the enthusiasm of early readers as we move from mechanics to fluency?