284 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
lays a most solid foundation for accurate and perfect spelling.
In addition to this, the composition of the words is in itself an exercise of intelligence. The word which is pronounced presents to the child a problem which he must solve, and he will do so by remembering the signs, selecting them from among others, and arranging them in the proper order. He will have the proof of the exact solution of his problem when he rereads the word — this word which he has composed, and which represents for all those who know how to read it, an idea.
When the child hears others read the word he has composed, he wears an expression of satisfaction and pride, and is possessed by a species of joyous wonder. He is impressed by this correspondence, carried on between himself and others by means of symbols. The written language represents for him the highest attainment reached by his own intelligence, and is at the same time, the reward of a great achievement.
When the pupil has finished the composition and the reading of the word we have him, according to the habits of order which we try to establish in connection with all our work, " put away " all the letters, each one in its own compartment. In composition, pure and simple, therefore, the child unites the two exercises of comparison and of selection of the graphic signs; the first, when from the entire box of letters before him he takes those necessary ; the second, when he seeks the compartment in which each letter must be replaced. There are, then, three exercises united in this one effort, all three uniting to fix the image of the graphic sign corresponding to the sounds of the word. The work of learning is in this case facilitated in three ways, and the ideas are acquired in a third