The process of reading and writing is often done backwards. For example, the child will begin reading before they know how to write. However, Dr. Maria Montessori believed if the child is prepared properly, she will write before she reads. There is a reason the child should write before she reads. Writing requires your own thought to form, identify the sounds, attach the symbols, use a tool to transcribe and finally, analyze. Reading requires the child to interpret someone else’s thought, identify symbols, attach sounds, analyze, decode, fuse sounds, attach meaning and then synthesize. It is clear, writing is much easier to do before reading. Reading is more difficult to learn right away verses writing.
There are two aspects involved in writing, mechanical and intellectual. Within each aspect, there are indirect and direct preparations of the hand. “Let us study the movements involved in the manipulation of the instrument of writing, and the holding of the pen or pencil. This is grasped with the first three fingers of the hand, and is moved up and down with that same uniformity, which we are accustomed to call the style of the writing. This movement is so individualistic, that each one of us, although using the same alphabet, imposes his own character on writing. There are indeed as many handwritings as there are men,” (Montessori, p. 236, 1949). Mechanical indirect preparations include developing hand-eye coordination, control of the hand to form shapes, pencil grip, lightness of touch. These are developed through many of the materials in the Children’s House such as geometry cabinet, leaf cabinet, sewing, and polishing activities. Mechanical direct preparations include the metal insets, sandpaper letters and practicing writing on paper.
Intellectual indirect preparations include oral language experiences, stories, poems, and vocabulary enrichment. Intellectual direct preparations include the moveable alphabet, writing notes, poems and stories. Metal insets are a great preparation for the child to write because they take into consideration lightness of touch, keeping with an outline, making shapes, moving from left to right and holding a pencil/colored pencil. Preparation of the mind is done parallel to preparation of the hand. The art of handwriting gives children more practice for reading and writing. All of these preparations and activities support the child on her way to becoming a total reader.