266 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
" Tracing the letter, in the fashion of writing, begins the muscular education which prepares for writing. One of our little girls taught by this method has reproduced all the letters with the pen, though she does not as yet recognise them all. She has made them about eight centimetres high, and with surprising regularity. This child also does well in hand work. The child who looks, recognises, and touches the letters in the manner of writing, prepares himself simultaneously for reading and writing. :
" Touching the letters and looking at them at the same time, fixes the image more quickly through the co-operation of the senses. Later, the two facts separate; looking becomes reading; touching becomes writing. According to the type of the individual, some learn to read first, others to write."
I had thus, about the year 1899, initiated my method for reading and writing upon the fundamental lines it still follows. It was with great surprise that I noted the facility with which a deficient child, to whom I one day gave a piece of chalk, traced upon the blackboard, in a firm hand, the letters of the entire alphabet, writing for the first time.
This had arrived much more quickly than I had supposed. As I have said, some of the children wrote the letters with a pen and yet could not recognise one of them. I have noticed, also, in normal children, that the muscular sense is most easily developed in infancy, and this makes writing exceedingly easy for children. It is not so with reading, which requires a much longer course of instruction, and which calls for a superior intellectual development, since it treats of the interpretation of signs, and of the modulation of accents of the voice, in order