Montessori Language Development (3 and 6)

How to start with montessori language 

You can typically start when your child is 2 1/2 years old.

Language is at the core of all education but it is important to note that like any other subject or topic, children will learn and grow at different rates. The objective is not to learn quickly or to move fast through these lessons but rather to make sure that each child gets the opportunity to repeat the work until they have mastered it before moving forward. 

Before learning to read your child needs to:

  • Have practice hearing and speaking the language
  • Understand the meaning of the words (vocabulary)
  • Can hear the individual sounds in words
  • Match the sounds of the words with the symbols (letters)
  • Link those letters to create words

Sound Game: 

Before introducing the symbol of the letter it is important that children can hear the sounds in the spoken word. This is why the sound game is one of the first Montessori language lessons. (This is called phonemic awareness)

How to introduce and practice this game: 

Gather a few object from around your house. Make sure to avoid objects that start with similar sound “b” and “p”. It is easiest to find objects with contrasting sounds. 


Ball and Car 

Hold the ball in your hand and say “ I spy with my little eyes something beginning with “b” then see if your child names the object. You can then repeat this while holding the car. “ I spy with my little eyes something beginning with “c”. Make sure to ALWAYS use the phonetic sound. (refer to the video at the bottom of this post for reference on each phonetic sound)

You can do this many times with different objects until you start to see your child recognizing the sounds within the words. You can play this game when reading a book and looking through the pictures.

When your child has mastered the sound game you can then start with the sandpaper letters. 

Montessori Sandpaper Letters:

An early Montessori language lesson leading to reading and writing. 

Sandpaper letters are the first time your child will see the symbol for the letter and be able to associate it with the appropriate phonetic sound. We teach the phonic sound before the letter name because it helps children grasp the concept of reading. Knowing the letter names doesn’t help with reading and can make it harder and more confusing when you start introducing sounds.

Montessori core philosophy when introducing letters: 

  • Call the letter by their sound not their name
  • Choose the more common sounds for letters with more than one 
  • Introduce lowercase first 
  • Do not introduce letters in alphabetical order
  • Use movable letters and sensory items (we have used pictures) 

Order in which to introduce letter:

There are many options to choose from. This is the order I introduced letters to my son. Introducing the letters in this order allows your child to not only master fewer letters at a time but these combinations of letters make multiple words that they can sound out. 

  • c m a t 
  • s r i p 
  • b f o g
  • h j u l 
  • d w e n 
  • k q v x y z  

When introducing sand letters make sure to point to the letter symbol, say the sound, and then have the child repeat the sound. When they have repeated the sound, have them use two figures and trace the letter. This is to allow for muscular and visual memory which will help with reading and writing. When your child has gotten more comfortable with the letter sounds in that group you can start to group them together to make a word (m a t) (c a t) 

It is important not to introduce new letters until your child has mastered the letters in the first combination and then consecutive letter groups. For example, if your child has mastered (c m a t), you can move on (s r i p ). As your child continues to master more and more letters, make sure they can continue practicing the sets they have mastered. You can then start to combine more letters to form more words. (s a t) (s i t) (c a t) (m a t). 

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Published by Christelle

Former Montessori School Teacher and Child Life Specialist. Specialize in early childhood education.

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