INTRODUCTION TO READING
Reading should be an exciting discovery for the child and can occur in a similar way as the child discovered writing. He may be looking at what he has written and realize that he can read what he wrote. When reading is discovered and not taught, the child can have a lifelong love of reading.
Reading allows the child to connect with the thoughts of others from the past and the present. It helps the child develop his personality and his intellect. The child will read to get information in the same way they see the older children and adults of their society do. Once the world of books is opened to the child, the sky’s the limit. Some children are so excited by the ability to read, they will want to read and read and read and will do so at school and at home whenever they have the time.
For the child who reads, we must provide a number of good books. We need to be sure we have a great variety. Children enjoy books about people, other places, about animals and birds and flowers, about events from the past and about everyday life. The child recognizes the enormity of information possible to get from reading. In today’s world, the information age, the ability to read means the child will be able to read all the things of interest to him.
In today’s developed countries, knowing to read and write is important for the development of the whole being. Literacy is part of the human’s whole adaptation. He must be able to write the language, read the language and without reading, the person is not fully independent.
Montessori viewed the written language as part of the child’s heritage. With this view, the adult has a responsibility to the child to then give him the home’s language. Mastery of writing and reading makes it possible for the child to see the wonders that come from the thoughts of others and the enjoyment that comes from finding out those things we are highly interested in.
Some children will come to read in an “explosive period” when reading all of a sudden happens to the child. If this does not happen, there are two stages of reading. The first is when the child learns the mechanics of reading. The child will be given the experience and keys needed to master the language. The first key being that a sound can be represented by symbols. By seeing the symbols and putting the sounds together, the child can come to finding a word that has meaning. As the child practices reading he will masters the mechanics, and will move to greater and greater ease of reading.
The second stage is when the child reaches the level of total reading. This means the child is “interpret reading”. At this level the child doesn’t read word by word by word, but reads phrases and sentences and gets the full understanding of these. The reading program offers the child grammar and syntax that helps him interpret what he reads. At this level the child not only understand the meaning of the words but grasps the whole meaning of the text.
The indirect preparations for reading are the same as for writing in the preparation for the mind. Everything the child has been working with up until this time with Practical Life and Sensorial materials help the child to read. Indirect preparation in the language area is also of extremely importance for reading. The directress is another major role in the child’s learning to read. By doing the Sound Games, Sandpaper Letters, and the Moveable Alphabet, the child is getting direct preparations for reading with the help of the directress. And when some of the children start reading with the words they create with the Moveable Alphabet, it is then time to begin teaching them the reading Exercises.
Some children will only begin reading by stages but once a child starts to read, they will begin to read almost anything. There are many interesting things to read at all stages of the exercise and by offering the child enjoyable activities, reading is mastered through positive experiences. In the end, our goal is to create a child who can use reading for both practical and pleasurable purposes.