296 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
form) and to the flowing quality of the letters. (The exercises in filling-in prepare for this.)
Didactic Material. The Didactic Material for the lessons in reading consists in slips of paper or cards upon which are written in clear, large script, words and phrases. In addition to these cards we have a great variety of toys.
Experience has taught me to distinguish clearly between writing and reading, and has shown me that the two acts are not absolutely contemporaneous. Contrary to the usually accepted idea, writing precedes reading. I do not consider as reading the test which the child makes when he verifies the word that he has written. He is translating signs into sounds, as he first translated sounds into signs. In this verification he already knows the word and has repeated it to himself while writing it. What I understand by reading is the interpretation of an idea from the written signs. The child who has not heard the word pronounced, and who recognises it when he sees it composed upon the table with the cardboard letters, and who can tell what it means; this child reads. The word which he reads has the same relation to written language that the word which he hears bears to'articulate language. Both serve to receive the language transmitted to us by others. So, until the child reads a transmission of ideas from the written word, he does not read.
We may say, if we like, that writing as described is a fact in which the psycho-motor mechanism prevails, while in reading, there enters a work which is purely intellectual. But it is evident how our method for writing prepares for reading, making the difficulties almost imperceptible. Indeed, writing prepares the child to interpret