Phonemic Awareness, reading the School in the Hills way

At School in the Hills, we take a comprehensive and individualized approach to teaching reading, recognizing that each child learns at their own pace and has unique strengths and needs. The beauty of Montessori lies in its thoughtful and systematic approach to fostering literacy skills, which encompasses various stages and materials to support children’s development.

In our classroom, the journey towards reading begins with a focus on phonemic awareness. This crucial skill involves recognizing and manipulating individual sounds in words. Montessori materials, such as the sandpaper letters, provide a tactile and multisensory experience for children. They trace the shape of each letter while simultaneously saying its corresponding sound, reinforcing the connection between letters and sounds.

As children become proficient in phonetic sounds, they progress to the next stage of reading instruction, which involves building words using moveable alphabets. This material allows children to physically manipulate letters, arranging them to form words. By engaging in this hands-on activity, children deepen their understanding of phonetic patterns and develop the ability to blend sounds together to create words.

The Montessori approach recognizes that reading is not solely about decoding words but also understanding their meaning. To support comprehension skills, our classrooms provide a rich environment filled with a wide range of literature, including books, poems, and stories. Teachers read aloud to children, engaging them in discussions and encouraging them to express their thoughts and ideas. This fosters a love for literature and helps children develop their vocabulary, comprehension, and critical thinking skills.

After children decode words, they move on to reading simple books called ‘Readers’ that contain phonetic words. These books, known as ‘readers,’ are carefully selected to match the child’s reading level, ensuring a gradual progression of difficulty. Your child’s progress is carefully observed and monitored by your child’s Lead Guide in tandem with our Director of Curriculum. These ‘readers’ generally contain simple and gradually more complex sentences and stories that align with the child’s reading ability. They are then sent home to encourage independent reading practice and further develop the child’s skills outside of the classroom environment. 

We recognize that reading is a lifelong skill and aim to instill a love for reading in children. By allowing children to learn at their own pace and providing them with a solid foundation in phonemic awareness, decoding, and comprehension, we equip our students with the tools they need to become confident and proficient readers. The beauty of Montessori lies in its ability to cultivate a lifelong love for literature, empowering children to explore the world through the written word and fostering a deep appreciation for the power of reading.

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