Book Review :: Montessori Read & Write

In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews, to be published every Friday. These reviews will cover computer programming books aimed at children, as well as reality-based children’s books for a Montessori lifestyle.

Montessori Read and Write by Lynne Lawrence

Montessori Read and Write by Lynne Lawrence

For parents, Montessori teachers and all people who interact with young children
Lawrence, Lynne. Montessori Read & Write: A Parent’s Guide to Literacy for Children. Ebury Press: London, 1998.

Despite the 1980s clothing that permeates the photographs throughout the book, Lawrence’s book is quite up to date. She is a Montessorian and obviously cares deeply about staying true to Dr. Montessori’s original message, but she isn’t afraid to advocate for parents to “teach” their child to learn how to read and write. And, she isn’t afraid to suggest that a Montessori approach to learning is more important than the materials themselves. Many of the games and activities she mentions in her book are easily and inexpensively replicated. There is no need to run out and purchase an entire Montessori classroom’s worth of materials.

Many of Lawrence's suggested activities are easy to replicate at home.

Many of Lawrence’s suggested activities are easy to replicate at home.

I have a special attachment to this book as it furthered my understanding of the Montessori approach that only years of teaching and observing could have done.  To say that I was a bit overwhelmed during my Montessori training would be a colossal understatement. And, I already had a master’s degree! The initial training was crammed into a month-long summer seminar that ran from 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Every day. For four and a half weeks.

At the time, my eldest son was only 20-months-old, so I was happy to have such a short time to have to worry about care. However, I was also trying to adjust to working parenthood and such a concentrated focus left me little time to reflect on my newly gained knowledge. That’s not a criticism of the training, more like a criticism of myself at the time. Even though I would go back and redo a few things during that time, I don’t regret my Montessori training in any way. It has helped me to become the person, parent, and teacher that I had hoped to be and it wouldn’t have happened if I was too worried about how to get it all done.

A chart of Dr. Montessori's observations on children's sensitive periods.

A chart of Dr. Montessori’s observations on children’s sensitive periods. Apologies for the bad picture!

That being said, when I was on my own and trying to make sense of the language component of a Montessori approach, I needed a bit more clarification. I didn’t have the luxury of having a lead teacher as mentor. I was the lead teacher, so I needed help and I needed help fast. Before the school year began.

Enter, Lynne Lawrence’s fabulous, easy to understand book on the language component of a Montessori classroom. As a Montessori teacher, I loved it for the straightforward way of explaining the sensitive periods and for having lots of charts and graphs that described (in general) the type of concepts a child had to work with to be ready for the next stage in learning.

From Montessori Read & Write by Lynne Lawrence. Increase concentration with other tasks.

From Montessori Read & Write by Lynne Lawrence. Increase concentration with other tasks.

Later, as a homeschooling parent, I loved that I could play a few verbal games, read lots of books and make some materials to use at home with my young children. The only true Montessori materials that I would recommend buying (rather than making) are the sandpaper letters. Trust me. I speak from personal experience. Buy these or these. You can thank me later.

So, this is less a review about what’s in the book and more a review that asks you to go out and find it and use it. Give it to new parents. Use it even if your child is attending preschool and, don’t worry if your child isn’t reading as soon as she implies in the book. Neither of my children love(d) the process of learning how to read. My eldest son, who is now almost ten, is a voracious reader. Voracious. He finishes books in a few hours (and then rereads them). But, he hated learning to read. So, don’t fret. They’ll get there.

So, here’s the kicker – unfortunately, this book is out of print. It was out of print when I found a used copy in 2007, but you can find old copies at Amazon. It’s worth it.

Children NEED choice. We all NEED choice.

Children NEED choice. We all NEED choice.

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