Which One Comes First: Reading or Writing?

Child Writing Letters


The Montessori curriculum introduces writing before reading, whereas the traditional school model introduces children to reading before writing. 

Maria Montessori believed that the child's “explosion into writing” naturally precedes the “explosion into reading”.

“Writing develops easily and spontaneously in a little child in the same way as speech, which is also a motor translation of sounds that have been heard. Reading on the other hand, forms a part of an abstract intellectual culture. It interprets ideas acquired by graphic symbols and is acquired only later.” 

(Montessori, 1967).

As children learn letters while writing, they put those letters together to make words and start reading. 

Both the hand and the mind have to be prepared in order for the child to eventually write. 


Activities to promote early writing:

  • Give kids writing tools and encourage them to use them. Make it available throughout the day (Sidewalk chalk, pencils, crayons, construction paper, envelopes, pens, scissors, cards, address labels). 
  • Model everyday writing by showing the writing process to children and thinking aloud while writing (ex. shopping list, to do list). 
  • Create a family mailbox where children can exchange written messages and drawings. Participate by writing messages and leaving them in the mailbox. This provides a meaningful context for children to read and write.
  • Practice writing during pretend play (ordering food at a restaurant while your child takes the order). 


These activities will help children understand the purpose of writing as a form of communication, and build confidence in their own writing.


Make Writing a Game, Not a Chore.