Friday, June 4, 2010

Our Country School: Choosing a Style

Yesterday I gave a tour of our school room. Those of you who are new to the Montessori style probably noticed a few similarities between our classroom and a Montessori classroom. Those of you who are well trained {or even partially trained} were cringing the whole time I would expect. I guess that's because I am at a crossroads, well sorta.

Mustang will turn 5 in September. That means she is 'too young' for Kindy according to the school cut-off calendar. But, we home school so we dont abide by the public school cut-off calendar. Really, it means we dont label our kids with a grade at all. That said, unless I am choosing to be an unschooler, it's time to put some sort of order to this madness AKA a curriculum.

I am really not much of one for a curriculum per se, but I do think I need a bit of a guide so that we are not just studying what I feel like teaching that week. Mostly, to make sure that we dont miss something. But, also because I dont want to fail to teach something because I dont like it only to find out that Mustang LOVES it and is good at it. Case and point, she is one of the fastest runners in her AWANA class. I have never, ever, been good at running.

I fell in love with the Montessori Method over 10 years ago when a sweet family friend was visiting from BC. She was in the process of completing her Montessori training at the institute near her home. She told all about the classes and the materials and the way the children learned and I was HOOKED. I looked into training in my own area, but they only provided it for teachers who had their Bachelors degree and I didnt yet have my Associates. So, I let the dream die.

Now that I have started homeschooling, the dream is beginning to live again. But, there is a lot of problems with this! #1-is by far the cost. Yes I realize that if I went and bought a new packaged set of A Bekka or Bob Jones materials each year and bought the consumables for each of my younger kids, I will also spend a lot of money. But, the fact is that you can get around the costs when using a 'boxed set.' I have purchased Bob Jones books for a quarter and been lovingly gifted a box of A Bekka books that will be used in a few years. With Montessori, its just not that easy-at least in this area.

I also chose to home school so that my children are not conformed by ANY style. Mustang is really into worksheets right now, so I bring out worksheets a lot. From what I see, worksheets and Montessori dont mix. That said, any schooling other then unschooling will always have some conforming involved, so one has to determine which would be the best for their child to conform to.

I do think I have come up with the best solution for us at this time. Montessori 'light.' I read this term on the blog What DID We Do All Day and love it. To be fair, she didnt define the term, so hopefully I am not way off in my labeling of myself.

My number one goal in our 'classroom' will be to have child lead learning. I have work on the shelves that they can choose to work with or choose not to work with. Secondly, I want the works to be hands on.

What I dont want to lose out on is a chance to try other things. Each day, we have a story time and possibly a color sheet or other work that isnt self guided. For example, during our Davy Crockett lesson I would put one or two things in Mustang's bin that she needed to complete that day before going on to the work shelves. This does not go along with the Montessori style of learning, but it does go along with real life. She enjoyed what she did-cutting, gluing, etc, and was often given a choice of which item she wanted to work on in her bin first-though there was occasionally something she didnt want to do and did anyways.

I am going to try and make or buy Montessori materials as I am able and slowly add them to the shelves. But, I dont want to be limited to only Montessori materials. If I think something will be a good fit for our learning I wont hesitate to put them out. I guess I am viewing a sort of Tot School, only not just for Tots.

If this post made any sense at all, I will be amazed. Clear as mud-to quote my father. I just wanted to try and put into words what's going on in my mind so that you know as you read where I am coming from. You will likely see me seemingly jump from style to style and that is EXACTLY what I am doing. I certainly dont want you to think that I am properly representing any one schooling style as I go along. My guess is, however, that I am not alone in this 'style.' So, if you have any tips, I would LOVE to hear them!


Debbie said...

I think you will discover that for most homeschoolers, especially those with experience will tell you the same things you just wrote about. Our curriculum falls within the frame of what have I been given, what can I teach without any curriculum, what I can make, and what I purchase. While I am not striving to be Montessori, unschooled, or even schooled, I feel many homes are blended across the board. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on what you are doing in your home.

Anonymous said...

I liked this post.. I don't think it was too confusing! Basically you are going to use what have, can make or buy what you need to get the job done :-)

sbswtp said...

I totally understood what you said... :)

Ticia said...

I totally got what you said. There are many aspects of Montessori that appeal to me, but I've figured out that it doesn't fit me as a person. So you're taking what you like and making it work for you. Ultimately that's what you need to do.