Monday, February 13, 2012

Becoming Montessori

A little over a month ago, I started watching an amazing collection of lectures from Margaret Homfray.  They are free to watch, and are just plain lovely.  Ms. Homfray is so engaging, and I found myself wanting to watch more and more of them.  Every night, when the kids were fast asleep, I would curl up with my Kindle Fire and watch her delightful lectures.  I learned A LOT.

Ms. Homfray's lectures made me start to think.  When I decided to homeschool (and I say I because it was-and is still-my idea.  DH could go either way) I wanted to offer my children something that the schools didn't.  I had wanted to use the Montessori method in our home because I felt it was the something different that I had been looking for.

I had heard of the Montessori Method when I was first married and still in college. No kids.  Just my husband and I.  I found out that there was a training center just minutes from my home.  However, you had to have finished all four years of college and then be accepted as your Master's program.  Newly married and short on cash, I ended up in the work force and never finished my college and of course that meant no training school.

Fast forward to when I was pregnant with Mustang.  I actually stumbled upon Michael Olaf's wonderful site about Montessori and your child from the start.  I was intrigued, but didn't embrace his ideas.  I was a working mom on a budget, and his ideas seemed wonderful but so different from what I had been brought up with that I didn't put them into practice.  I just went along with the status quo and that was that.  Man I wish I would have started this journey then!!

Where am I going with this???  Not sure, lol.

After watching Ms. Homfray, I fell in love with the Montessori Method all over again.  I learned things just watching her lectures and I really want to teach those things to my own children.  I realized after watching them, however, that my attempt at Montessori in my home had really not been much Montessori.  I mean, they have been good things, and some of them are taken from a Montessori classroom, but I think I have been missing the point.  And, rather then try to explain what I have been doing wrong, I will tell you how I am planning to change things.

1.  Our environment.  Not just our school environment-but our entire home.  We own entirely too much stuff!  The Montessori Method requires a peaceful, organized, child friendly environment.  It's hard to have peaceful and organized in a household of 6, but I am determined to make it that way!  As we have more children, we have more stuff and I have less time.  I hope to teach my children to take care of their own environment, but currently there is more then I feel they can easily care for, and I don't have enough time to do it for them-and I don't WANT to do it for them.

Blogs like How We Montessori show photos of a very minimalist environment.  I've often thought about how I love the look of these spaces.  Somewhere along the line I bought the American lie that more is better.  I have become a quantity over quality shopper.  I'm tired of that thought and I really want to change the way I feel about things.  I believe that this will help our children to grow into more focused and caring individuals that value their few possessions and treat them with respect.  Plus, we should have more time to do things as we will be spending less time picking UP things. :)

2.  Montessori Materials {purchasing}.  Yes, they are expensive.  But, so are many other things in life. Just add up the amount of money spent on the toys, clothes, books, and dinner outings in your life and you may just realize that the materials are not that pricey.  The children and I each received money for Christmas.  With that money I made a large (to us) materials order.  The alternative would have likely been more toys, books, or clothes that would have been fun but we didn't really NEED.  

This brings my point 1 and point 2 together.  As I change our environment, I have been selling the things we don't need and love.  So, I was able to place another materials order yesterday.  Win win in my book :).

3.  Montessori Materials {using them}.  I actually looked at a few Montessori albums online when I made my order.  I knew that I wanted to order math materials since that is what I love most about the Montessori Method and Mustang has really wanting to learn more complicated math.  But, as I looked at the albums and my children, I realized I wanted many sensorial items, too.  So, I ordered a bit of both, things that looked fun to me.  THEN, I went about reading on how to present them.  

I stumbled upon this lovely download from Our Montessori Story in my searching.  Once I read the scope and sequence listed there (from David Gettman's book), I had a very eye opening and honestly overwhelming realization.  I had ordered the WRONG things.  Plus, I had been going about this the wrong way. 
 Montessori Primary is for children ages 2 1/2-6.  I have a 2 1/2, 4, and 6 year old.  Perfect, right?  Well, yes, BUT, Mustang is on her way out and Mini Cooper on her way in, and Mustang is actually TOO OLD to get some things the way Dr. Montessori intended.  Brown bag moment!!

I seriously lost some sleep the first night.  Thankfully, more reading and praying and thinking, has brought me to some decisions.

First off, after being told for a couple of year that I should I FINALLY took My Boy's Teacher's advice and ordered David Gettman's book.  It should be here in a few days!  Then, in my second material's order, I filled out the rest of what I needed for period one (baby steps here!).  Mini Cooper is at the very bottom of period one and Mustang and Charger will obviously speed through them, catching what they need to in the process.  I am going to continue on my math path with Mustang to move her quickly through to the golden bead material.  She knows everything along the way and needs to move forward in her math while she is interested.  I am not going to try and change her language lessons right now, either, as she is doing very well in All About Reading and First Start Reading.  

I realize that by Montessori standards, Mustang is way behind, but by public school standards she would have until about third grade to learn all the math, geography, and science that are in the Montessori Primary albums (sad I know).  So, I'm going to move forward with them.  We have done very little science and culture at all so she needs these lessons.  Hopefully, by next fall I will have a better handle on this and can start figuring how to move her to Elementary.

With Charger, Mini Cooper, and soon Explorer, I plan to stick to the scope and sequence order for introducing materials (as much as I can).  Charger has already received the presentation on the broad stair and red rods because he saw me present them to Mustang and he really wanted to try.  I think he will come back to them.

So, that's a nutshell of where we are and where I am wanting to go.  I do plan to blog a little more about my materials choices, but that's for another day.  As you can see, the posts on lessons may change a little.  We are at the beginning of a new road, but I'm VERY excited to be on it!  Wish us luck!

God Bless!!

I'm linking this up to Montessori Monday.  I know it's not full of lesson examples, but it might be helpful to others wanting to start a Montessori journey or refine the one you are on.
Montessori Monday


The Homeschool Den said...

It sounds like you're in an exciting place in your homeschooling journey. When I started learning about the Montessori method I fell in love with the albums at They gave me a lot of great ideas. I didn't see you mention them in your post and wanted to be sure you knew about them. ~Liesl

Jessica said...

I really appreciate this post. Even though I've been in Montessori for a couple of years now I'm still learning so much.

I found Homfray's videos and need to listen to more. She is so good! But I can definitely relate to buying into the American mindset of having much and blogs like How We Montessori make me wish I had done things differently. But little by little I hope to change that. :)

tina @ september said...

wonderful! excited for you :)

Stephanie said...

Congratulations on all of the thinking and soul searching that you have been doing! I have been thinking alt about the same things, and even though we do use all montessori things in our schooling, I need to change some things here too! ;) I know you will do great! Good Luck and Happy Schooling!

Jessica - Keys of the Universe said...

It sounds like you have a good plan going!

When you are ready to move into elementary, my online albums include ongoing support (both private e-mail and on a community discussion board) - so you can have all the hand-holding you want :)

I remember my own early years of stumbling along - and I'd been in a Montessori school! So you are not alone :)

Lindsi B said...

What a beautiful family you have and a beautiful life!!! I'd love to have you share this with our readers for our Fun Stuff Fridays link up.

Deb Chitwood said...

I think what you're doing is wonderful! I've enjoyed following your homeschooling journey so far and look forward to following your exciting new adventures! :) Deb @