THE MONTESSORI LITERACY PROGRAM
Our literacy program was founded on the principal of children being confident and prepared when entering grade 1, allowing them to experience a smooth transition where they are left secure with their own capabilities and knowingness that they CAN succeed in this new environment we call “grade 1”.
Students who could not continue with us through Casa 2 and Casa 3 (jk,sk).. and went off to the public sector, I knew, were not going to get the tools they required to have a successful transition when the time came for grade 1. It literally takes those crucial years of 4 and 5 to effectively foster the skills that they need to build to be able to read as they are expected to, by their grade 1 teachers.
What is the issue, I discovered that there is a gap in the public school curriculum between kindergarten and the expectations of grade 1 students. Play base learning does not include learning phonetic sounds or any other literacy lessons.
The most I’ve seen was a bring a book home to read program, which still leaves parents with having to do the majority of the work, and still leaves the child possibly learning how to read, but without comprehension and no spelling skills, as the child is simply memorizing words rather than learning the fundamentals of knowing how to decode a word. (and this reading program is when you have a teacher who implements this, as it is not a formal part of the curriculum but something a teacher will add.. not all kindergarten rooms have the same curriculum, as literacy is run by a teacher by teacher basis).
The Montessori Literacy program uses the Montessori Language tools to first begin by teaching children their phonetic sounds. Once they learn their phonetic sounds they can begin to “build words” using “the sounds they hear in the words”, indirectly teaching them to not only later read these words, but most importantly spell them.
Step One: learn and master your phonetic sounds.. (depending on the child this usually takes them roughly 2-3 months to complete)
Step Two: build short phonetic words like “cat, dog, mat, cap” etc… and complete the entire “Pink Scheme” which is the first series of roughly 40 prepared activities which focus on strictly short phonetic words only…
(depending on the child this usually takes them about 3-4 months to complete)
Step Three: In the “Blue Scheme”, they begin to build long phonetic words like “Canada, flag, umbrella, camp” etc… Long phonetic words are words where you can still hear all the sounds in the word, however, they have 4 letters or more.. they would then go through the series of roughly 40 prepared activities, which takes another 3-4 month depending on the child.
Step Four: The child is now around the age of 5 sometimes 5.5, depending on the child, and they enter the “Green Scheme”, this is where they begin learning blends such as “sh”, “ch”, “ie”, “th” etc…again using specially designed Montessori Prepared Activities, the child successfully moves through words like “shell, chicken, thing”… only being introduced to 1 blend at a time where the blend “sh”, for example, is present with all other letters being phonetic.
At this time the child is reaching a brain developmental stage where they begin to rapidly express all the knowledge they have been retaining since birth, especially since age 3 and onward. Its not that they haven’t before, but during the ages of 5.5-7 there is a huge leap they make, especially when being exposed to this process. They begin to put it all together very quickly and an ease of reading and writing occurs.
It’s interesting because this only happens when the child is gradually prepared for this, otherwise if not prepared, they can become reclusive, shy, begin to develop self-doubt and a feeling like they “can’t do this”. I’ve not only seen this in students who have come to me in grade one, in this situation; But I’ve also experienced it as a student who was not prepared and learned how to read and write at a very late age. The feelings of “not being smart enough” are very strong and stopped me for all of my academic years. It wasn’t until I actually began to participate in self-development and leadership courses where I discovered that this “I’m not smart enough” was merely a story I made up when I was a child based on not being able to “read or spell” well, like the others in my class.
I guess, I’ve seen this happen so often with children these days, and have experienced it myself, and now have the tools to support children in becoming successful readers and writers, that I feel obligated to support them, knowing that when put through this program they will be prepared. Reading and writing is truly only the foundation, and once they have confidence in that, they can use that gift to go on a learn anything they want and become anyone they dream of.
The Logistics of the Program:
The program is offered right now on Saturday and Sunday mornings:
Saturday from: 9:00-10:30AM and 11:15-12:30PM and Sunday from: 9:00-10:30AM
The cost of the program is $200.00 per 8 sessions, which breaks down to be $100.00 per month.
The child participates in the program for an hour and a half, and then at the end of each session, the teacher, myself or another, will give you a debrief on how he did and what you can do at home during that week to support him for the following class.