The Reading Process

By Sandrine Lescure

For those who couldn’t make it to Information Night, today we are posting what we affectionately call “the reader speech” given at it.  Developed by our head teacher Mrs. Petrocelli, it is now loved and used by all the staff.  It perfectly encapsulates the process of reading in the Montessori method, and clearly explains the exact steps in that process here at TRMS.  We encourage all parents to read this post, as it answers so many of the questions that come up throughout every year.  You can refer back to it as your child progresses through the steps.


1.  You have chosen the Montessori method.  You must trust the process.

a.  First, children learn each isolated phonetic sound in the alphabet.

b.  Then three letter phonetic word building is introduced, in family word groups (mat, sat, cat etc.)

c.  Sight words (words not spelled as they sound, the, he, etc.) are then introduced.

d.  When the first set of sight words is memorized, and the child is fluently sounding out three letter phonetic words, as well as building them with the Moveable Alphabet, the first reader is introduced.


2.  Readers are in sequential order for a reason:

a.  Each individual reader introduces a certain sound, a sight word, a long vowel, a blend, a phonogram etc.

b.  Each reader has a corresponding comprehension worksheet, and other materials that complement and reinforce what is being read and learned.

If this is rushed, and the learning at each stage not thoroughly completed, there will be “holes” in the child’s reading and road blocks in their understanding will occur as the readers become more challenging.


3.  It is not about:

a.  Getting the next reader quickly

b.  “When is my child getting the first reader?”

c.  “What reader is this or that other child on?”

d.  Whether they are JK or SK.


4.  Here’s what it is about

     Comprehension.  Your child has completed an individual book, but can they read those words outside of that reader? If you pointed to those words in another book, could they read them?  If you pointed out those words on a sign, on packaging at the grocery store, or in a reading app?  That is the true test, and that is why we say let us follow the child, and let the child complete all the corresponding work before getting the next reader.

     It is far better to have a strong reader on Set 3 than a weak reader on Set 5, and we see this all the time when parents insist on pushing for the next reader either through the child, by calling the office, or sending a note in the reader bag asking for the next reader and etc.


5.  If you insist on not trusting the process the consequences are sadly evident because the child is feeling pressured with something they are not ready for.  Unfortunately, these are some examples of what can happen when children are unneccessarily pushed :

a.  When completing the comprehension worksheets, the child will come and ask us “What does this say?” (even though the question they’re asking about contains an exact sentence from the reader) or “I don’t know the answer” even though they’ve “read” the reader several times.

b.  Spelling tests. They can not spell the sight words, because they should have seen them consistently throughout the readers at their own pace.

c.  They can’t complete their work during lesson period with the Moveable Alphabet, because they can not spell the words from the reader they currently have.

      Reading is about so much more than “the next reader”.  COMPREHENSION IS KEY!  Is your child truly understanding the story?  The who, what, where, when, why and how’s of the stories will be asked orally and in written exercises in class time.  You might be surprised how many times a child has had a book for many days, yet can’t answer basic questions like “Who threw the ball?”  “What did Jenny eat?” etc.  This happens most often when they’ve been pushed through the reader series beyond their own pace and abilities.

     This is such an important point to mention, because children need reading comprehension skills in ALL academic areas.  Developing and reinforcing this skill is crucial to their ability to learn.  Math word problems, Geography, History, Creative Writing, research projects and so on, both now and increasingly in their later years of schooling, require this skill to achieve any understanding or progress.


6.  We make sure the child is not just memorizing the words using a variety of methods and materials in the class. For example(s):

a.  We turn to ANY page and ask them to read, or start in the middle of any sentence in the book. If the child truly knows how to read, they don’t say “but I have to start at page one” or struggle to read the page.

b.  We cover the picture on the page, so the child can not use the pictures for cues.

c.  We write the words on flashcards, and place them throughout the room. When the child finds a card, they come and read it back to us.

*We suggest parents use these tips at home as well, especially with sight words, long vowels, and phonograms.


8.  Journals are introduced in Set 5 if the child is ready, in terms of both reading and writing, and feels confident and prepared.


9.  You can supplement your child’s reading at home through similar level books. Go to the library, or ask teachers for suggestions.  There will also be a blog post next month with basic suggestions for books that correspond with the level of each set of school readers.


10.  We have clear classrooms rules about respecting each other, and everyone works at their own pace. In class, students are not permitted to ask others which reader they’re on.  We read quietly with each child and change readers discretely to avoid comparisons often created by parents.


If we, parents and teachers, make a “big deal” about readers (getting the next one immediately, which set the child is on, etc.) the child will feel pressured, and very often become upset, frustrated, and discouraged if they feel they have disappointed us.

  1. They will start to notice which reader their friends are on.
  2. They will ask outright for the next reader, or say “My mommy said to give me the next reader…”
  3. They become nervous to read to the teacher, in case they do not get the next book.

     Children sense your approval, disappointment and expectations acutely, though they may not be able to articulate it.  Few things kill their interest in, or love of, an activity faster or more completely than sensing from this early stage that they are not meeting adult expectations, not fast enough, or just simply not “good” enough at it.


We hope this is informative and useful to you, as your child progresses through the steps.