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Reading and writing at an early age.

As you might know I went back to school to become a Montessori teacher. It wasn't a very easy year. I especially did not like being away from the girls so much. But I am so grateful to God that I made it. Unfortunately after moving back here, I have come to the conclusion that the profession 'Montessori teacher' does not exist here. In Ireland this is a teacher who has studied Early Childhood Education and the Montessori method and who is qualified to teach children from 2,5 years to 6 years old. It is quite sour that I worked so hard to become a Montessori teacher and that that's just not a possibility here. I miss working with children and teaching but I know that the time to do that will come again one day. And for the time being, I can make myself useful by helping out in the kids church of the church that I attend and I can use my skills to help my girls with their school work.

It is not easy to see how little the Montessori method is used here with young children, because it is something that I really believe in. But I think that it just does not suit the school system here in Holland. Children in Holland start primary school at 4, no matter when their birthday is.
They then go in group 1 and they normally move to group 2, if they are 5 when the new school year starts. But sometimes exceptions are made and children who turn 5 later in that calendar year, are allowed to go to group 2.
In group 1 the children don't learn a lot about reading or writing yet, but the children normally share a class with group 2 and in that way they can pick up something earlier. Children from group 2 are taught phonics and can try to write letters. The real reading and writing here in Holland starts only in group 3.

My youngest daughter Nevaeh started primary school in february from last year. Because she only did group 1 for a few months, she started the new school year in group 1 too. She has picked up the phonics which the kids of group 2 have been learning already and knowing that children should be able to learn to read from 3,5 years old according to the Montessori method, I started to teach her a few words made up out of three phonics. She understood it very quickly and was so excited to learn. I also worked with her myself regarding writing and taught her how to write her own name, which she is thrilled about too.


I guess for primary school here in Holland the only benefit of young children learning to read and write from an earlier age is that they will do a little better than their classmates when they are in group 3. It will be easier for them to start reading and writing and to progress in that area.
In Ireland some schools start reading and writing from age 4 in a class called Junior infants which you could compare with group 1. Only in this class, children need to be 4 before the school year starts and in some schools children will learn the phonics shortly after the school year has started and at the end of Junior Infants the child will be able to read a few simple books already.

It was not easy to accept how different it goes here but I am trusting that the girls will end up just fine. I see that the fact that Yovannah had learned reading and writing in her first school year, has really helped her to progress fast in group 3 here, even though the lessons are in Dutch now.
And through practising with Nevaeh I can see that I could help her myself with learning to read. So she will progress faster when she will be in group 3.

My opinion about learning children to read and write at an early age is; if there is evidence that they are capable of doing it, why would you deny them to possibility to further develop in that area ?
But I do understand how some schools and countries prefer to let children play longer, because children learn through play too. It promotes all areas of their development. Maria Montessori did not really believe in play but since there are benefits to play too, I would not completely leave it out and I would definitely like to have it as part of the curriculum. But I also would not deny children the possibility to obtain kills that they are well capable of obtaining.
It will only help them to be more succesful in education later in life.

Today it is the last day of the blogging challenge and even though I have a couple of ideas, it took me a while before I knew what to write about and decided to choose this topic.

What do you think about the Montessori method ?
I would love to hear from you.



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