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READING                                   293

Not all the children reach the same standard at the same age,
and since none of them is, I do not say forced, but not even invited,
or in any way attracted, to do what he does not want to do, it
happens that some children, not having offered themselves for
learning, have been left in peace, and can neither write nor read.

If the old method, which dominates the will of the child, and
crushes out his self-expression, does not think that it ought to force
him to learn to write before the age of six, no more do I think so!

However, I could not decide without long experience whether
in every case the age of the full development of spoken language
ought to be that which it is suitable to choose for encouraging the
development of written language.

In any case almost all normal children brought up by our
methods begin to write at four years of age, and at five they can
read and write at least as well as children who have finished the
second elementary class; that means that they could pass into the
second or third class at an age a year or two below that of the
present -day admission to the first class.


The simple reading game described above was taken up again,
modified and adapted for learning reading in languages which are
not phonetic, like English, Dutch, etc.

The essential exercise, which in its general principle may be
of general application as in phonetic languages, consists in pre-
paring a series of objects and a corresponding set .of labels on which
are written the names relating to them; after the card has been read
it is placed near the object which corresponds to it. For the
phonetic languages, the exercise aims at raising interest in the
written word; recognition of the object present makes the child
feel that he has discovered a secret, and the act of placing the
label satisfies him and opens up a round of intimate activity.

By this time the internal motor has been set going, interest
has been kindled, and the communication between the source of
life and mastery over externals has been established.