The Story of the Montessori Reading Program
The Montessori Reading Program was developed by Marianne Calnan, Founder and Head Educator at the Mundaring Montessori School, Perth Western Australia.
In the course of teaching Marianne realised there was something missing. In her own words:
“Amongst the educational materials we bought for the school were sandpaper letters and a moveable alphabet with which the children made phonetic words.
It soon became obvious that the children needed books to practice the letters and words. So I set about making booklets using old greeting cards as covers so that the children could take a book home every day. The booklets became so popular that one day, at the end of term, when I did not put any books out to take home, some of the children came to me crying asking for a reading book. I wondered – children being upset because they did not get reading books to take home? I took this as a compliment and decided to make many more books. The children had made it clear that the most enjoyable way to learn to read was reading stories.”
Once again I set to work, this time writing stories fitting in with the children’s first limited, and then gradually expanding reading vocabulary – 120 stories in all.
Meanwhile my husband John, who had worked in the printing and advertising industry, suggested that he would be able to print the now complete reading program and set out designing and printing the books.
It was exciting to see all the colourful booklets published at last. The Montessori Reading Program took many years to evolve and we wish to thank all the children who helped create it.
What Parents and Teachers Think
“My child started with the Montessori Reading Program when she was three. As her concentration span was very short, we used the first booklets once or twice a day for no more than five to ten minutes. Before her fourth birthday Chloe started reading sentence books and though at such a young age she didn’t really know she was learning to read, something made her feel proud. What I like most about the Montessori Reading Program is that we both enjoy it.”
“I got worried when my son was in year two and still could not read. The easy readers he brought home had one sentence on one page and a picture on the opposite page. I noticed that most of the times he was guessing after seeing the picture. When he started with the Montessori Reading Program he had to start from scratch, but Joseph did not flounder any more. Everything he learnt made him confident and I never forget the smile on his face when he read his first story book – without guessing!”
“I am a grade one teacher and was unhappy about the children’s poor reading results. When our principal told us about a newly published reading program I was keen to find out more about it. What struck me most about the Montessori Reading Program was the logical sequence of the booklets, from letter sounds to phonetic words and sight words. Already in level one the children have a choice of 60 sentence and story books to take home which they are able to read.”
“James goes to a pre-school where they use the Montessori Reading Program. He brings a reading book home every day and will not only read it to us but every visitor has to listen too. He is getting keener as he goes along and we noticed that each book he brings home is almost tailor made, not too easy and not too difficult. We are thrilled that he is learning in such an enjoyable way.”
“When Evie’s friends come over they always want her to read stories to them. She is not pretending to be a story reader. At five she can read fluently. She started with the Montessori Reading Program when she was three and had done all four levels in less than two years.”
“I have to admit that I am very ambitious for my child. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t push her into things. I want her to play and enjoy herself, of course, but I thought what’s wrong with learning as well, especially as a child can start the Montessori Reading Program as young as two years. I thought there is no harm in trying it out. I was looking forward to doing that little bit every day. My child did not mind. Actually she read the booklets willingly. The four colourful boxes on the shelf are my pride and joy. Soon we’ll reach a milestone when Callie will be able to read her first sentences and don’t forget she is only three.”
“Morgan went to a Montessori School where they used the Montessori Reading Program. He started at three, every day bringing a reader home from day one. He wasn’t overly keen, but as the booklets were so short he did not mind reading them. Now at four he is reading and when I say reading, I mean reading fluently. Having gone through the four levels of the Montessori Reading Program he now attempts to read anything.”
“Ethan looks so tiny. Well, he just turned three. In his case he is not much interested in anything else but reading. Having learnt the letter sounds in no time, he started reading phonetic three letter words. To everyone’s surprise he read them fluently straight away and demanded sight words, which he had seen other children use.
His mum, a teacher herself, is shaking her head in amazement. Unfortunately, he is leaving his school, but his mum will continue with the Montessori Reading Program.”