Start with the sounds of the letters using the Montessori Sandpaper Letters (shown above). Using your pointer and index fingers, lightly trace the letter in the direction in which it is written as you say the sound.
When your child has mastered the sounds of the letters using the Sandpaper Letters, introduce the Movable Alphabet (shown above). Short CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words such as "man" and "mat" are the first words your child should learn to read because they are natural extensions of the letter sounds.
What to avoid? You do not need to introduce the ABCs right away and be careful of products that propose teaching your child to read through a special method or souped up phonics! Good old-fashioned letter sounds and basic words is the way to start. In the Montessori classroom, children begin working with the Sandpaper Letters around the age of two and a half or three years of age. Typically, children will be able to read and write short words by the age of three and a half or four.
The most important thing at this age is to introduce a love of reading, so there is no replacement for bedtime stories and other family book times.
As you say, "The most important thing...is to introduce a love of reading." Yes! Maria Montessori had such confindence in what children could do. All they needed was a prepared environment. An environment in which reading is loved is a perfectly prepared one. We must have confidence that the child will learn on his own.
But where do we go from here in spreading the word about Montessori? I have written Montessori Madness! A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education as a tool for those parents who love the method to take to their relatives, neighbors, and friends, hand it to them, and say, "This is why I send my child to a Montessori school."
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