Writing is a complete act that requires intellectual process combined with manual dexterity and is the ability to express thoughts with graphic symbols. Activities that make this possible were of special interest to Montessori, who realized the great importance of indirect preparation: the child had prepared his hand and his mind to then be able to write. When all of the components of language come together and the child realizes he can write is what Montessori called an “explosive phenomenon”.
During the time when writing is introduced to the child, the child’s sensitive periods are helping the child investigate his environment. The child is attracted to order in anything, and there is order in writing, such as how to make the letters, the order in sounds represented by letters, and the order in the structure of the language as a whole.
The child has been prepared for writing through his past experiences in the classroom, which begins with the sound games, to help the child realize that words are made up of sounds. Then the child worked with the Sandpaper Letters to help the child become aware that each sound has a symbol.
With the Moveable Alphabet, the child was able to put a thought into symbols first by “writing” a single word, then a phrase, then a complete sentence and finally a story. The last direct preparation the child will have before he begins to write will be his work with the metal insets. This will help the child to learn how to correctly hold a pencil, it will make the child practice different strokes, help the child learn about pencil pressure and will make the hand ready for handwriting.
The refinement of the senses also aids the child in learning to write by the child’s heightened interest in the nuances of perceptions. Clear perception helps the child write better and to assess his own work. Refinement of movement is also very helpful for the child who is learning to write. He is interested in the movement of making the letter. The child’s hand is flexible and malleable and his movement is not yet set. Touch is still quit irresistible and the child will make conscious attempts to stabilize his movement as he begins to work with the writing Exercises.
The child’s absorbent mind helps him to absorb the images of the letters and also helps the child absorb the importance of writing. It is important in the culture and the child will take that in. This contributes to the child’s deep desire to write. The children will come to realize that writing is not just any marks put on paper but is made of special marks. Knowing these special marks helps the child to do “special writing”.
Communication is a human tendency and writing gives the child this satisfaction. Mastery of writing is developmentally important because it is a major part in the child’s adaptation in the environment and gives the child another level of independence. Writing with the Movable Alphabet will come a few months before handwriting and somewhere in the beginning of handwriting, the child will begin to read. From thereon, writing and reading will develop parallel to each other and will support the development of each other.
After the child has learned to write, development Exercises will help the child bring his handwriting to a very high level. His writing will be legible, beautiful, and unique. All of the children will learn to write but each does so in his own way. Uniqueness is fixed when the mechanism of writing is well established. What is set in the child tends to remain fairly well intact throughout adulthood and highlights how important the preparations are, so this childhood acquisition will be correctly set.
The skill of writing is a practical skill that also enables the child to write creatively. Through these handwriting Exercises the child will be able to make his own personal expressions and put his own thoughts on paper.