Montessori philosophy and reading

Maria Montessori recognized that children as young as two had an interest in written letters. The "sandpaper letters" (letters cut out of sandpaper that can be traced) were developed to take advantage of this sensitive period. Montessori had an advantage when teaching in Italy; Italian is mostly phonetic. Once the basic phonetic sounds were learned, reading proceeded quite easily.

Montessori also observed that writing usually proceeded reading. When a child writes, all they need to do is turn sounds into letters. When a child reads, they need to pull apart the letters, turn them into phonetic sounds, and put them back together to make a word. It's a more complicated process. Children in Montessori classrooms often write stories with the movable alphabet long before they can read.