Literacy Skills for Toddlers: A Montessori Approach


It’s never too soon to start teaching your baby or toddler literacy skills! The earlier you begin, the better start your baby will have. But, that doesn’t mean you should be singing the ABC song from birth. There are many ways to teach literacy for toddlers, the Montessori approach is very effective. How can you prepare your toddler for literacy the Montessori way? Here are 4 important parts of Montessori literacy Skills for toddlers:

A Text-Rich Environment

Kids should be surrounded by language and words. One obvious way is to provide your toddler with plenty of books to read. At the toddler age, it’s best to start out with board books for them to handle. But, you can read them regular picture books, take trips to the library, and keep books, magazines, and newspapers in your home.

Toddlers Literacy Skills: Text Rich Environment with words
Early Morning Reading at 10 months old

As your child pages through books, they’ll learn important literacy skills. For example, books are read from front to back, moving pages from the bottom right corner. In addition, your child will learn that stories have a sequence and that the images are related to words on the page. All of this will give your child an advantage when they’re ready to learn to read.

In many Montessori classrooms, the text rich environment is enhanced with labels. Regular objects are labeled so that children can begin to recognize words. For example, you might see a label for “chair,” “window,” or even “pencils.” You can adopt this approach in your home with similar labels in your child’s room, or even the kitchen.


 Sound Games

From an early age, emphasize words that start with the same sound. Make a game out of it! For example, you can list a bunch of words that start with the sound “mmm.” You might say “May, morning, more, maple!” emphasizing the “m” sound at the start of each word. Eventually, you can invite your toddler to join in thinking of words that start with the same sound. we started using this technique when Yannis just turned 1 year old with the letter  “B”  ” Bugs, Ball, Bee”

 Learning New Words

Montessori materials for toddlers include laminated photos of different images. For example, a set of laminated cards featuring farm animals. Then, the teacher or parent can show the child each photo and say the name of the animal. The child is invited to repeat these new words. Eventually, the child can look through the cards and say the words on their own.

Literacy for Toddlers: Language Card
Language Card.

Be Out and About

In her book, The Absorbent Mind, Montessori writes about how in some cultures, it was normal for babies to go everywhere with their mothers. Children in other parts of the world ride around on their mother’s backs, to market, to run errands, around the home, and more. She observed this as a great opportunity for young children to be exposed to oral language and new vocabulary. That’s why today’s baby carriers are so great! You can take your child anywhere and they’ll see your interactions first-hand.

With these strategies, you can give your toddler a head start on literacy skills that will serve them throughout their whole life.

Do you have a favorite literacy activity? Tell me about it in the comments.


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