How Does Montessori Teach Reading (Innovative Literacy Method)

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It’s amazing how children in a Montessori classroom learn to write first before they even learn how to read. This is particularly helpful for moms like me who need expert help in teaching their children to learn reading in an easy, effective, and non-stressful way. 

So, how does Montessori teach reading? The Montessori way of teaching reading is focused on phonics, visualization, and reading with the goal of understanding the meaning behind the words by taking cues from context clues. With the Montessori method, children learn reading at their own pace, enjoying the process, and without the unnecessary pressure to keep up with everyone else. 

The Montessori method is different from the traditional method of teaching reading. The Montessori approach provides an individualized or personalized approach to learning how to read without the pressure of following a timeline. It is also child-focused and introduces hands-on learning to familiarize themselves with the words and their meaning in the form of play and collaboration with other children.

What is the Montessori Method for Teaching Reading?

The Montessori method has a different approach to teaching children how to read. Developing the language is supported by hands-on activities and the introduction of interactive learning materials and toys that help encourage kids to develop and enrich their vocabulary and communication skills. 

Learning Phonics

Montessori learning focuses on phonics. In essence, children are taught to understand sounds by encoding symbols that are combined in order to form words, before they are decoded or read. The Montessori method incorporates rhymes with songs and sound games to improve the children’s understanding of phonics. 

Child-Led Approach

The learning approach of the Montessori method is focused on the child’s unique pace. Children freely explore reading and words in an organic way, without putting any pressure on kids to learn at a standard pace. There is no standard or one-size-fits-all pace in the Montessori method. The child gets to have the upper hand on their learning pace and progress. 

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    Sensory Learning

    With the Montessori method, the children are equipped for reading by training the senses. First off, motor skills are developed to get the small muscles working by writing lines and then getting comfortable with the numbers and letters. Following that, the sensory materials and activities are introduced into the process to decipher variations in sounds

    Talk First, Write, and then Read

    With the Montessori approach, speaking naturally comes first, then writing, followed by reading. Children would normally be babbling sounds or attempting to talk and express themselves – and sometimes they can be incomprehensible and that’s normal and fun! It is at this point in time that children need the support and appreciation of their parents. The goal here is not to be too strict with the pronunciation or grammar but to encourage your children to speak, write, and read without looking for perfect results. It’s supposed to be an enjoyable learning experience so let them express themselves freely. When writing, the goal here is to express their ideas or feelings so it doesn’t matter if they have misspelled words or missed any punctuation marks. Once children have mastered writing, they will start to be at home with sounds that will be their basis once they start reading. From there, the child can now connect the phonetic sounds to certain letters. 

    Hands-On Experience

    Real hands-on experience helps enrich the vocabulary of children. So, it is recommended that children be exposed to real objects before you show them photobooks or picture cards such as real flowers before you show them a photo card of flowers. In that way, children can easily identify and associate their names and images with the real world. 


    Children always enjoy listening to stories. In fact, this becomes a great way to bond with my children because they love listening to adventure and also bedtime stories. They also love to interact or ask questions or express their thoughts during storytelling time. Reading stories fascinate kids so much which keeps them hooked to your every word, allowing them to understand the meaning of each word, and also increase their vocabulary which they can use in their daily conversations. In addition, this also helps to build their relationships with books!

    Learning Through Playtime!

    With the Montessori method, children can freely choose their learning materials and activities. In this way, they learn while playing. Learning becomes an enjoyable experience because of the “play” environment. 


    Interaction with other kids is one of the best ways to beef up children’s vocabularies. The Montessori method stresses the importance of collaboration as kids learn the value of teamwork and having a supportive and nurturing learning environment that allows everyone to thrive.

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    The Montessori method teaches reading as child-led and holistic with emphasis on phonics, integrating hands-on learning materials, and with the goal of instilling a love for books and reading. 

    What are the Montessori Reading Materials and Activities?

    The Montessori method uses reading materials and a variety of activities that help them with their love for reading and learning the language. Below are some of the Montessori reading materials and activities used to aid children in reading efficiently:

    • Reading Aloud. Children are encouraged to read aloud on a regular basis to develop their self-confidence and reading aptitude. 
    • Picture Cards. Kids get to be familiar with or memorize certain words by constantly exposing them to these frequently used words. 
    • Moveable Alphabets. With the moveable alphabet, children can move around and mix and match different letters to form words. This allows them to practice spelling and word formations. 
    • Rhyming Games. This game can help when kids practice phonics and create different words.
    • Sound Games. This learning activity helps children in identifying certain sounds like vowels and consonants. 
    • Sandpaper Letters. Using these wooden letters helps little ones memorize the shapes of letters while the sounds are repeated. 

    These Montessori reading materials and activities help children love, enjoy, and be hands-on with the process of learning the language and reading. 

    Related Questions

    Is Montessori good for reading? Yes, implementing the Montessori method for teaching reading is very effective because of the hands-on, individualized, nurturing, and supportive environment that a Montessori classroom has. More so, the Montessori method can produce strong readers because of the emphasis on phonics, interactive games, and collaboration, allowing the children to explore and learn the language in a fun way and at their own pace. 

    What age does Montessori start reading? With the Montessori method, children are allowed to learn at their own pace or readiness level. In general, Montessori teachers can tell whether a child is ready to read in the course of their phonics exercises but kids do usually read at the age of 3 to 5, but there is no required or standard age to start reading. 

    What did Maria Montessori say about reading? According to Dr. Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori method, reading is quite natural for children as they learn out of their innate curiosity and by playing with multi-sensory toys and manipulating hands-on learning materials. 


    The Montessori method of teaching kids how to read is focused not on memorizing letters and numbers but rather an emphasis on phonics, visualization, and integrating multi-sensory activities that allow kids to learn and love reading by heart.