Learning to Write: The Montessori Way

“Writing is a key to a double gain. It enables the hand to master a vital skill like that of speaking and to create a second means of communication that reflects the spoken word in all its details….”

Maria Montessori

Have you ever considered how the practice of handwriting is such a challenging task?

Let’s break down the process:

  1. Hold your pencil firmly so that it can write against the paper
  2. Move your pencil to form legible letters and keep your paper stable
  3. Recall the shape of letters
  4. Recall the sounds of each letter to spell words correctly

Learning to write is an arduous task for a young child – she must master how to hold a pencil as well as learn the sound of the letter she is writing.  The Montessori environment is unique because it masterfully integrates the physical and intellectual aspects of writing.  For example, in the Toddler room, the child is introduced to activities that strengthen her thumb and first two fingers such as the cylinder blocks.  This carries on to the primary classroom, where she is introduced to materials in Practical Life and Sensorial that train her hand-eye coordination and steadiness of the hand.  Finally, in Language, she is introduced to the geometry of letters – feeling their shape in sand as she pronounces its sound.

Aline D. Wolf, author of a Parent’s Guide to the Montessori Classroom (2009), discusses this idea further:

“For a child to try to acquire both aspects of this skill at the same time is often discouraging and frustrating.  It is extremely difficult for him to try to learn the path for making the letters at the same time that he is trying to learn how to move the pencil with control.”

“The Montessori approach offers the child the opportunity to learn the shapes and sounds of the letters in a way that is completely independent from the child’s perfection of the motor skill.  The child, therefore, in the Montessori classroom learns to write not by writing, but by performing a number of purposefully structured activities which prepare the child both indirectly and directly for facility in handwriting.”

A curriculum that thoughtfully evolves as your child develops physically and intellectually is truly an ideal choice when finding a way to lay a strong foundation in early childhood care.

Writing @ Home

Good writing requires more than good handwriting skills.

For good handwriting, practice makes perfect. Take a piece of notebook paper and write a sentence or the child’s name as an example. Then, have the child rewrite the sentence.  Be legible and use wide-ruled paper, so children can see their mistakes when they practice.

Writing is also a means of communication, a way to express ideas and thoughts.  Improve writing by reading.  Expand your child’s vocabulary by talking to them – ask them their opinions and ask them to expand on why they think the way they do.  Good writing is the result of clear thinking and a thorough knowledge of vocabulary to enable lucid expression.