In the Children’s House, children are encouraged to learn both English and either Chinese or Japanese simultaneously.
Often, Montessori preschool children who start in the infant community can read well, before the end of the 3rd year in the program (that is, before the end of traditional Kindergarten.) One of the factors deciding when a child is ready to move up to AIM’s elementary program is their ability to read phonetic texts independently.
Montessori preschool supports the development of literacy skills at an early age by breaking the process down into simple steps, and making each step fun for children to master:
Using a moving alphabet enables children to write before they can form letters properly. Students are writing, and transmitting ideas, as young as age four.
PUTTING EVERYTHING TOGETHER
Children start writing, not just three-letter words, but full sentences. Shortly thereafter, they begin to read, not just simple sentences like "a cat on a mat," but anything they can phonetically decipher.
BUILDING TO INDEPENDENT READING
Once a preschool child starts to write and read, a range of materials enables them to learn the phonograms and multi-letter combinations that are critical to reading in English. This practice in phonograms begins in Childen’s House and continues seamlessly into our Montessori elementary program.
LEARNING TO WRITE
Many activities provide what we call indirect preparation for writing (picking up small objects, gripping knobs on cylinders, even the circular motion of cleaning the blackboard or washing a table develop motor skills critical for writing.) The metal insets further refine pencil control, as children outline and then color in a series of geometric shapes.
Students listen to the beginning sounds of objects and repeat those sounds. We also do a lot of songs and rhyming games to foster this essential skill.
ASSOCIATING SOUNDS WITH LETTERS
In a Montessori environment, we focus solely on letter sounds. We use a material called sandpaper letters to introduce cursive writing to students as young as age four. The children receive individual lessons with the teacher as they guide the child in associating a sound with symbols. The child also traces the letter with their pointer and middle finger to master the movement necessary for forming the letter.