THE METHOD AND THE MATERIAL 297
mechanically the union of the letter sounds of which the written word is composed. When a child in our school knows how to write, he knows how to read the sounds of which the word is composed. It should be noticed, however, that when the child composes the words with the movable alphabet, or when he writes, he has time to think about the signs which he must select to form the word. The writing of a word requires a great deal more time than that necessary for reading the same word.
The child who knows how to write, when placed before a word which he must interpret by reading, is silent for a long time, and generally reads the component sounds with the same slowness with which he would have written them. But the sense of the word becomes evident only when it is pronounced clearly and with the phonetic accent. Now, in order to place the phonetic accent the child must recognise the word; that is, he must recognise the idea which the word represents. The intervention of a superior work of the intellect is necessary if he is to read. Because of all this, I proceed in the following way with the exercises in reading, and, as will be evident, I do away entirely with the old-time primer.
I prepare a number of little cards made from ordinary writing-paper. On each of these I write in large clear script some well-known word, one which has already been pronounced many times by the children, and which represents an object actually present or well known to them. If the word refers to an object which is before them, I place this object under the eyes of the child, in order to facilitate his interpretation of the word. I will say, in this connection, the objects used in these writing games are for the most part toys of which we have a great many in the " Children's Houses." Among these toys, are the