How Does Montessori Teach the Alphabet? 

Young girl and her teacher learning the motessori alphabet

Learning the alphabet is an essential first step in learning how to read. However, the Montessori alphabet learning method is far more relaxed than the methods used by traditional schools. Instead of pushing children to learn all the letters within a set time period, the Montessori method puts an emphasis on gradual, natural learning that involves not only the eyes and ears but all the senses. This method is ideal for children with ADHD and other learning difficulties. At the same time, it’s perfect for neurotypical preschoolers who often aren’t eager to spend long hours sitting still and learning new scholastic facts.

Montessori Alphabet Teaching Philosophy

The Montessori method explains that the ages 0 to 6 are sensitive developmental periods. Children in this age range need not only order and language but also movement and sensory refinement. Thus, if you enter a typical Montessori classroom, you’ll see that letters aren’t only something written in a book or on a board. You may see sandpaper letters that children can not only see but also feel. Children may be singing and dancing to alphabet songs rather than sitting still. What’s more, you’ll likely see lots of alphabet-related games and activities that children can do on their own. That’s because the Montessori method puts a priority on independent learning so that each child can learn at his or her own speed.

You’ll likely also notice that children in a Montessori school don’t start by learning the names of the letters. Rather, they learn the sounds the letters make. “B” is not “bee”; it’s “buh”. Children learn short vowel sounds before learning about long sounds. They also learn lower-case letters before learning about upper-case ones. As children learn new letters, they are encouraged to put them together with the letters they already know in order to make words. Indeed, Montessori schools put a priority on helping children learn to assemble words even before they know how to read them or write them on paper. Using movable letters such as block letters, sandpaper letters, and magnetic letters, many children learning the alphabet via the Montessori method enjoy using different tools to write out blends and words.

Common Ways Montessori Schools Teach the Alphabet

Montessori schools never teach all the letters at once. Rather, they introduce them in groups of four or six at a time. This enables children to master a few letters at a time before moving on to new ones. What’s more, the letters are never grouped in alphabetical order. They are grouped in a sequence that allows children to form a multitude of words even if they only know four to six letters.

A young montessori girl learning the alphabet

The teaching session will always include plenty of games and activities. The teacher may have a large tray with sandpaper letters covered in sand, salt, or rice so children can dig through the bin, find the letters, and identify the sounds they make. The teacher may say a letter and ask the children to find items in the classroom that start with that sound. The children may also create an alphabet book with the letters they are learning, accompanied by pictures and words that start with that letter.

Children are then given plenty of opportunities to not only review the letters they learned on their own but also engage in other forms of educational play not directly related to alphabet learning. Science shows that creative play boosts a child’s intelligence, memory, and learning abilities and Montessori schools have plenty of educational toys and activities for children of all ages to enjoy. These include play dough, toy food/cooking sets, building blocks, puzzles, paints, coloring pencils, and crayons.

Learning at Home

Children don’t only learn at school. They also learn at home, and the experiences they have at home impact their ability to learn at school. Montessori school teachers are eager to work with parents to help children reach their full potential. Many will encourage parents to set up a “Montessori-like” atmosphere at home. This prepares kids for school and helps them practice the skills they learn when they start attending a Montessori school. You don’t have to buy all the cool toys and tools the school has, but it does mean making some adaptations to your routine and furnishings.

Make it easy for children to care for themselves by putting things in their reach. Putting clothes in reach so children can practice learning how to dress themselves fosters independence and builds self-esteem. Explaining to your child what they will be doing the next day and then sticking to your planned routine teaches children the importance of schedules and routines. Asking your child thought-provoking questions will help him or her learn how to think and be creative. You can also build on the school’s alphabet-learning activities by reviewing letters at home. However, don’t push children to learn if they’re uninterested or having a hard time remembering new letters. Allow them to learn at their own pace and encourage them to continue mastering the skills they are interested in.One of the most important things a child could learn is to read and then develop a love of reading. Reading empowers children to learn more about topics they’re interested in. It enables them to find out about people, places, and ideas that can shape their future and perspectives on life. Learning the alphabet is the first step in the learning-to-read journey. It’s never too early to start thinking about an early education program that will help your child learn the alphabet along with other important academic and life skills. If you’re looking for a good Montessori school that provides a well-rounded education for young children and makes learning fun, Mansio Montessori can meet your needs. Our school has been in operation for well over forty years. Our teachers are not only experienced but also passionate about helping your child reach his or her full potential. Get in touch with us at your convenience to find out more about how we work or to schedule a school tour.