Phonological Awareness (Montessori)

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Phonological awareness is a critical skill that children develop in the early stages of learning to read and write. In a Montessori setting, explicit phonological awareness instruction is a key aspect of the curriculum, aiding the transition from oral language to written language.[1][2][3]

Phonological awareness refers to the ability to identify and manipulate the sound structures of spoken language, including syllables, onsets and rimes, and individual phonemes.[1]

Montessori Quotes

Maria Montessori highlighted the importance of interest in learning, stating, "The essential thing is for the task to arouse such an interest that it engages the child's whole personality."[4] This belief is particularly relevant in the context of phonological awareness instruction, where engagement and interest play a crucial role in a child's learning process.

Research and Critiques


Research demonstrates a positive correlation between a student's phonological awareness and their subsequent reading achievements. One study conducted in a Montessori kindergarten revealed significant weaknesses in students' phonological awareness in identifying the first sound in a word and segmenting sounds in vowel-consonant and consonant-vowel-consonant words. Through interviews and the examination of the school's curriculum and teaching manuals, researchers found that several tasks for phonological awareness were not being taught, including identifying the first sound in a spoken word. The study concluded that curricular support and professional development in assessing and teaching phonological skills needed to be enhanced.[1]


Despite the importance of phonological awareness in early literacy development, some critics argue that Montessori's methods of teaching phonological awareness may not provide sufficient scaffolding and explicit instruction for all students. Some students may need more structured and targeted instruction to develop these skills.[2]

Comparisons to Other Methods

Compared to other teaching methods, the Montessori approach to teaching phonological awareness is unique. It emphasizes individual or small group instruction and the use of hands-on materials. Children are introduced to the sounds of language through games like "I Spy" and by using Montessori materials such as the Sandpaper Letters and the Moveable Alphabet. However, critics argue that this approach may not offer enough explicit instruction and practice opportunities for all students.[1]

See Also

Glossary of Montessori Terms

The Glossary of Montessori Terms is a collection of specific terms and vocabulary that are related to the Montessori method of education, primarily focusing on the theory and practice for children aged 3 to 6. The jargon used by Montessori educators offers a unique insight into child development as discussed by Maria Montessori. The 'Montepedia Glossary of Montessori Terms' originated from a glossary that was compiled by the late Annette Haines from the Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis, at the request of Molly O'Shaughnessy from the Montessori Centre of Minnesota. The reason behind the creation of this glossary was to supplement O'Shaughnessy's lecture at the Joint Annual Refresher Course that took place in Tampa, Florida, in February 2001.[5] The glossary has since been expanded and updated with additional 'Montessori Terms'.

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Adams, M. J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. MIT Press.
  2. 2.0 2.1 National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction: Reports of the subgroups (NIH Publication No. 00-4754). U.S. Government Printing Office.
  3. Lonigan, C. J., & Shanahan, T. (2008). Developing early literacy skills: Things we know we know and things we know we don’t know. Educational Researcher, 37(9), 620–627.
  4. 'The Absorbent Mind' by Maria Montessori
  5. Haines, A. (2001). Glossary of Montessori Terms. Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis.