288 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
ineffable joy. The child has chosen perhaps the word " mother," seeming to render thus a tribute to maternity. The first word written by my little ones aroused within themselves an indescribable emotion of joy. Not being able to adjust in their minds the connection between the preparation and the act, they were possessed by the illusion that, having now grown to the proper size, they knew how to write. In other words, writing seemed to them only one among the many gifts of nature.
They believe that, as they grow bigger and stronger, there will come some beautiful day when they shall know how to write. And, indeed, this is what it is in reality. The child who speaks, first prepares himself unconsciously, perfecting the psycho-muscular mechanism which leads to the articulation of the word. In the case of writing, the child does almost the same thing, but the direct pedagogical help and the possibility of preparing the movements for writing in an almost material way, causes the ability to write to develop much more rapidly and more perfectly than the ability to speak correctly.
In spite of the ease with which this is accomplished, the preparation is not partial, but complete. The child possesses all the movements necessary for writing. And written language develops not gradually, but in an explosive way; that is, the child can write any word. Such was our first experience in the development of the written language in our children. Those first days we were a prey to deep emotions. It seemed as if we walked in a dream, and as if we assisted at some miraculous achievement.
The child who wrote a word for the first time was full of excited joy. He might be compared to the hen who has just laid an egg. Indeed, no one could escape from