Where the child's interest inspires great work
Maitri Learning creates educational materials that are research-based, accurate, beautiful, durable, and usable. Maitri Learning was founded somewhat accidentally by a Montessori teacher who was trying to buy the perfect materials for her classroom and couldn't find them anywhere. Now, the materials she created (based specifically on the precise directions received in her AMI training) are used by Montessori teachers, parents, and teacher trainers around the world. We are named after the Buddhist word maitri which means 'having a compassionate, kind heart.' We keep the principle of maitri at the front of all of our business decisions.
When you order Maitri Learning materials you can be confident that you are receiving materials of the highest educational value. All of our materials are designed by a Montessori teacher and rigorously reviewed and tested by Montessori teacher trainers, teachers, and children before they are offered for sale. Our research-based materials contain exactly what you and your children need and nothing else.
Maitri is a green, eco-friendly, fair-wage, right-livelihood, woman-owned business. We pay all of our employees at least $15/hour, which should be our country's national minimum wage. Our prices reflect these fair labor costs along with the higher costs of environmentally-sound paper, toxin-free laminate, and inks made without ozone-depleting substances.
So, you've done tons of sound games and you're starting into the sandpaper letters with one of your 3-year-olds. It's your first lesson so you choose two pink letters and one blue letter all with letters that are really visually and phonetically distinct (like s, m, and i). You get to the second period and the child is interested. You end the lesson while he feels successful and excited and free him to repeat the work. Well done!
Now, it's a day or two later. You're ready to give him another lesson. But this time, and forever after, you choose one pink letter (preferably one that you already showed him), one blue letter, and ONE GREEN sandpaper letter.
Yes, that's right, ladies and gentlemen! You can and should introduce phonograms right away when you teach any letter sound! Why? Because to the child, a phonogram is just another symbol associated with a sound. The developing brain does not see it as two things put together; a phonogram is just one new thing. It's us grown-ups that get all caught up in the "see how you take two sounds and put them together to make a new sound" thing. That is such an adult-mind thing to do! Don't fall into that let's-make-everything-wicked-complicated adult-brain trap. The child's mind is different from ours, that's why they can learn this effortlessly (assuming they can hear the sounds in our language, hence the prerequisite for sound game experience).
I was at the NAMTA conference in Maryland this weekend (love those) where Dr. Maryanne Wolf was speaking. You may have come across her meaty and most worthy book Proust and the Squid. (If you want to know how the brain is changed by the act of learning to read, read her book alongside Stanislaus Dehaene's Reading in the Brain and you'll be all set.)
Dr. Wolfe had a passionate message to share about the brain, children, and reading. The big take home for me was that our culture may be on a path of decreasing literacy. We are developing expert neural circuits for skimming at the expense of circuits for deep, contemplative reading. In this digital age, this makes our spoken language work with children more important than ever before.
I just got off the phone with Shannon Helfrich, a Montessori primary teacher trainer and one of my mentors (how lucky am I). She was kind enough to review the new Word Study materials and Phonogram Charts we are creating (coming soon!). When we were chatting, we spoke about how best to first introduce all the word study work. It's not via the writing and reading lessons we give but instead, it's through spoken language presentations.
That's right, the foundations for all the great, deep reading comprehension and expression that we hope to nurture in our children is based squarely on talking. But not just any kind of talking; talking in precise, planned, and repeatable ways.