Learning Guide 32 – 36 Months

Learning Guide 32 – 36 Months

By Olynda Smith


Ready to Read

Your little one’s communication skills are likely in full bloom.  They may be ready for their first direct pre-reading work. They have been preparing indirectly for years through being read to, seeing you read and simply by being exposed to language. 


Creative Paths to Learning

My mentor teacher once told me “It doesn’t matter when a child learns to read, but it does matter how.”  Each person has their own unique course for learning.  Your child will at some point enter a sensitive period for learning about letters and sounds, and you’ll have this information ready to support them in their work.  


If we force the issue before they are ready it is like taking the skin off a snake before it is ready to shed.  Waiting for the right time ensures the snake slithers right out, delighted to be done with that old layer.  Learning and growing are always like that.  


How will you know when your child is ready to dive in?  Your child’s interest is the gauge for when they are ready. If you are met with delight when you begin introducing the letters you are on the right track.  If your child is spacing out, asking to do other things, or simply refusing the invitation it’s time to step back.  We want our little ones to learn to read, but even more so we want them to have a lifelong love of learning and a positive view of themselves as a joyful and capable learner.  


Matching Sound And Symbol

In this box, you have a set of Letter Blocks. They invite building and learning about letters. It may surprise you to know that in Montessori classrooms we are not excited about children learning the names of the letters.  Learning the names of the letters is not particularly helpful for children at this stage.  While the ABC song can be fun, and there is no harm in learning it, it does very little to help your child towards learning readiness.  What does help is giving them opportunities to associate the sounds of the letters with the symbol of the letters.


If your child hasn’t done much matching work, you may want to first do a bit of exact matching. 

It will perhaps take a little rewiring for adults, but there are simple ways to help your child learn the sounds of the letters.  One practice is to replace naming the letters with making the letter sound.  When you point to B, for example, don’t say the name of the letter, just make a “b” sound.  Always refer to the letters by their sounds.  


Italian Influence

This one to one correlation of sound and symbol is much easier in Italian (Montessori’s native language).  If you are Spanish speaking it will also be easier to have one sound for one letter.  English is tricky, but for simplicity’s sake, in all Montessori classrooms, we use the short vowels when introducing the letters.  I suggest following that method. 

Here is a quick guide of what those sounds are:

A Apple

E Elephant

I Igloo

O Ostrich

U Umbrella


Extend The Fun

If, and only if, your child is loving letters, you can increase their letter time by introducing a letter of the day.  Pick a place your child sees every day to be the “letter spot.”  

Place one of the Sabo blocks in that place for them to find that morning, with the letter of the day facing your child.  


When your child sees that letter you say the sound.  If it is S, you’ll say “Sssssss.  This says ssssssss”.  Have fun incorporating the letter and sound into your day.  Draw it in the sand, make the letter out of sticks or write it on coloring pages.  As your child gets familiar with the letter you can write it in different places for her to find throughout the day.  Remember to make the letters you write look exactly like the one you first introduced.  No variation at this point.  


Do not expect your child to write the letter.  They may do this on their own, but writing the letter is - you guessed it - a different skill than recognizing the letter and matching the sound to the symbol. 

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