Why Your Child Needs to Write Before Learning to Read

Learn why your child needs to build words with a moveable alphabet before learning how to read. #montessori #preschoolactivities

Yes, it’s true: writing comes before reading!

I know, you’re skeptical! But… I'm actually talking about "writing" in terms of word building, not handwriting with a pencil and paper.

In the natural sequence that leads to reading, "writing" comes first because it's much easier to encode words than it is to decode words.

To “write” means to express your own thoughts, which you already know because it comes from within.

The encoding process requires segmenting the word in your mind into its individual sounds, finding the letter symbols that represent those sounds and then building the word by putting the letters in a row. 

On the other hand, reading requires working towards the unknown. You’ve got to decode another person’s thoughts.

Until the decoding process becomes automatic, your child needs to pull apart each word to sound it out and then put the word back together again to understand the meaning.

This decoding process is a lot more work than “writing” your own thoughts!

Most children will learn to read during the process of putting sounds in a row to build words.

One day, your child will suddenly realizes that he or she can put sounds in a certain order to make a word.

This will be followed by the realization that any words that are written can then be read!

It might happen soon after your child starts to work on word building or it might happen a few months later, but rest assured that "writing" will naturally lead to reading.  

Writing with the moveable alphabet as a pre-reading activity. #montessori #homeschoolpreschool

A Montessori moveable alphabet can facilitate "writing" before your child is totally comfortable with handwriting.

Preschoolers are often capable of putting sounds in a row to build a word before the hand is physically ready to form the letters of the word with a pencil on paper.

Using cut out lowercase alphabet letters, your preschooler can begin to "write" words while he or she is working on developing the pencil grip through other activities.

If your child is already totally comfortable with handwriting, then he or she probably won't be interested in using a moveable alphabet. If that's the case, you can skip the moveable alphabet and instead focus on encouraging your child to handwrite words to express his or her own ideas.

The more your preschooler builds words to develop encoding skills, the closer he or she will get to reading!

Montessori moveable alphabet

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Montessori moveable alphabet as pre-reading activity. #montessori #homeschoolpreschool


About the Author

I'm Lisa Adele, an AMI-trained Montessori teacher and the creator of The Playful Path to Reading. I help moms guide their preschoolers from pre-reading to early reading using a gentle child-led approach.