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Language and Literacy

Communication, Language and Literacy Development:

Policies and Practices for Staunton Montessori Staff:

Teaching phonics to all children and raising the profile of early literacy and phonics with parents (‘Parents as Partners’ EYFS), making them aware of Staunton Montessori approach, which is:

1. Preparation Phase – Early Language and Literacy:

  • Encouraging speaking and listening skills:  ‘Letters and Sounds’ – Phase 1
    • Exploit the power of story, rhyme, drama and song to fire children’s imagination and interest (boys as well as girls).
    • Encourage children to use language copiously – engage with fictional and non-fictional sources.
    • Systematic high quality phonics in fun short discrete daily sessions.
  •  ‘Letters and Sounds’ – Phase 2
    • Emphasising the Montessori multi-sensory approach teach phonics in small groups every day and link it to the project theme e.g. space – take out the letter S (from Large Moveable Alphabet, LMA) – group repetition and review (target age 3 – 4 yrs old). Add literacy provision to planning documents.
    • Use incremental progression through phonics: i.e. start with S.A.T.P.I.N.
    • Montessori preliminary preparation includes working through practical life activities (concentration and fine motor), sensorial section such as sandpaper touch-boards and globe (preparing sensorial memory for sandpaper letters) and inset tracing and matching (shape as basis for letter character).
    • The key activity in preparing for reading and writing is presenting and working through the sandpaper letters. Using the sense of touch guide the child’s fingers over the sandpaper letter in the direction in which it is written (sensorial learning and muscular memory).
  • Record progress in assessment files, with crayon rubbings. Start with the letter which starts their name and then work through S,A,T,P,I,N. Then teach the vowels (coloured coded blue for multi-sensory approach) and then complete all of the common letters.
  • Aim: letter sound knowledge from letter recognition, which is DECODING (basis of reading)
  • When? Start process when 3 years old or earlier if there is sufficient interest and concentration – do not force the process. We deliver phonics at circle time when relevant, in discrete small group work or with individuals during the Montessori work cycle. In the summer work outside if possible making language and literacy an outdoor as well as indoor activity.
  • Who? The child’s ‘key person’ is ultimately responsible for tracking their phonic acquisition, but certain staff have special responsibility such as Phonics Co-ordinator and the designated Language Lead. Please liaise and co-ordinate in whole staff meetings and planning meetings.
  • Write comments regarding the child’s developing phonic knowledge in children’s assessment files or on the tracking sheet from ‘Letters and Sounds’

2. Main Phase – Phonics Application (Montessori):

  • Task 1: Relating sandpaper letters to the Montessori large moveable alphabet (LMA) by matching
  • Task 2: Word Building- ENCODING (basis of writing)
    • Pink Box 1: contains concrete learning props– e.g. model dog and pig – for three letter phonetic words. These animals give a physical/real frame of reference for the word building exercise.
    • E.g. Model DOG: teacher asks, “What letter sounds can you hear in DOG?” The child then chooses the correct letters from the LMA and builds the word on a mat.
    • Blue Box 1: for four letter phonetic words.
    • Also use the exercise of matching picture cards with word cards. Words may be copied into literacy books. Then follow the Montessori system up through to digraph blends.

Important Points for Language and Literacy:

  • Use tracking observations sheets for each child progress & support planning of next steps for each child (motto: ‘If we know where children are, we can move them on.’).
  • Our ‘enabling environments’ must provide:
    • Purposeful and child-initiated speaking/listening opportunities and ‘zones’.
    • Free reading/writing e.g. phonics obstacle course or role play shop (phase 1).
    • It is very important that children understand the purpose of learning phonics and have lots of opportunities to apply their developing skills in context.
  • Ensure each child in your key worker group starts sounding out phonemes e.g. ‘c’ for cat and blending them before they leave Staunton Montessori.
  • Ensure planning of environment enables contextual application of phonics knowledge (practise) – this is called the engagement phase and is reflected in levels of child enjoyment.
  • Reading and understanding are the key goals in literacy – conversation/discussion is the foundation to literacy (time to talk about stories etc.). We should ask the children questions to get them speaking.
  • Phonological awareness enables children to ‘decode’ words in reading and in reverse enables ‘encoding’ which is writing – we all want independent readers & writers.
  • Knowing the technical terms in ‘Letters and Sounds’ document:
    • Phonics: consists of knowledge of the skills of segmenting and blending, knowledge of alphabetic code and an understanding of the way this code is used in reading and spelling.
    • Segmenting: breaking words down into phonemes to spell.
    • Blending: building words from their constituent phonemes to read.
    • Phoneme: a distinctive unit of sound in a word e.g. p, b.
    • Grapheme: a letter or sequence of letters that represents a phoneme.
    • Digraphs and Trigraphs: ‘tricky’ non-phonic two and three letter graphemes.

‘Letters and Sounds’ guides the approach to Language and Literacy Development at Staunton Montessori:

More information and download of ‘Letters and Sounds’