Thursday, May 17, 2012

5 Days of Montessori: Where to Start, What to Teach, and What Order to Go In

Day 4!  Thanks for staying with me through this series!  I pray it has been a blessing to you and your family.  So far I've blogged about:  What is the Montessori Method?, creating a Prepared Environment, and all about the Montessori Materials.  Today, we are going to put it all together.  I'm going to discuss the order of materials and how to plan a school day with the Montessori Method.  

I've given you a lot of background on Dr. Montessori and the Montessori Method.  If you've read through them you may now have a strong desire to use the method in your homeschool, or you've already decided that you want to.  You may have even gone ahead and ordered some materials, but you really don't know how to start.  

It can certainly be a bit overwhelming to start the Montessori Method.  I mean, unless you were one of the lucky few that attended a Montessori school, it's not like you can pull from your memory of how you were taught.  You are, like I was  am, relying on the nice blogger moms out there to get you off on the right foot.  I am not a trained Montessori teacher (though I am considering it), but I am speaking from homeschool mom experience.  

As a curriculum reviewer for The Old Schoolhouse Review Team, I know that I prefer easy to use, thought out curriculum with lots of hand holding and step by step instructions.  I was happy to learn that these types of instructions ARE available for the Montessori Method.  These instructions, or manuals, can be purchased from a number of places, OR you can find some of them for FREE.  Here are links to the ones I know of (for the 3-6 year olds)

Info Montessori Primary Guide (My overall favorite)
Dr. Montessori's Handbook (free Kindle Download)
Dr Montessori's Handbook (free Project Gutenberg download)

Now, before you go off to these links, I want to explain what a Montessori Album is and what it is not.  A Montessori Album describes in depth how to present each material.  It explains the purpose of each material, the control of error, and the approximate age you should present it.  What an album does not do is discuss these materials in order.  Why they don't is still a bit of a mystery to me.  The best answer I can give is that since this is a method, there is some flexibility and so the presentation order is left up to the child and teacher.  However, I mention yesterday, that each of the Montessori Materials build on each other.  So there is certainly a preferred order in which to present the materials.  

This is where a Scope and Sequence comes in very handy.  The Montessori Teacher's Collective (Moteaco) has one that I refer to all the time.  It has each of the areas of Montessori instruction broken down by materials.  It has been especially useful for me in the area of mathematics.

As I mentioned in my post on Monday, the Montessori Method is broken down into 5 different areas or 'subjects.'  Language, Math, Practical Life, Sensorial, and Culture.  Culture is broken down further into the areas of Geography, Zoology, and Botany (though some manuals put Botany under sensorial).   Art is usually put under Culture and Music falls under Sensorial.  If you were to follow the Scope and Sequence bullet point by bullet point down the row, you would do all of one area before moving to the next and then doing all of it.  That isn't how the Montessori Method is designed either :).

Before you give up, there is hope!  An author by the name of David Gettman wrote a great book, Basic Montessori: Learning Activities for Under Fives. (not an affiliate link).  In his book, he outlines a scope and sequence that breaks down the materials according to sensitive periods.  Dr. Montessori found that children tend to become interested in certain things as their brains develop that area.  Just like a baby wants to pick up everything off the floor because they are refining their grasping skills (ask me how I know this), a child will have periods when all they want to do is draw, or write, or build because they are developing in that area. 

 Renee at Our Montessori Story was kind enough to type up this sequence and even offer it as a download.  It will give you, in my opinion, the VERY BEST starting point for a newbie.  In fact, I am still following this sequence with my children.  There are always going to be children who advance differently, and that's OKAY.  The Montessori Method encourages individuality and the ability to go at one's own pace.  But, you as the parent/teacher need to know where to begin.  Once you start using the materials you will get a better feel for your own child and know which direction to go next.

As long as your child is in the 2 1/2-5 age group, I would start by ordering the materials needed for Period One and go from there.  You can present the materials from one area at the same time as another.  In other words, you can present pouring beans between two jugs and the cylinder blocks on the same day.  If your child has mastered the pouring you can go on to the opening and closing materials even if she hasn't mastered the cylinder blocks. If your child is 4 or 5, be prepared (especially in the financial area) for them to advance quickly through the materials.  A child who is 2 1/2 or 3 will likely move through the materials at a slower rate.

IF your child is 6 years old, you will want to do some major research.  The Montessori Primary class is for ages 3-6, and the Elementary class is for ages 6-9.  Some of the materials overlap, some do not.  I chose to go ahead and start with the Primary class with all my children because, even though Mustang is 6, I have 3 other children either IN the Primary class or who will be.  It seemed it would still be a good investment to buy from the beginning of Period 1.  If it had just been Mustang, I would have probably started in Elementary.  As it is, she is almost ready for Elementary and I am not quite ready for her.  I need to start doing some research of my own!

I mentioned at the beginning of my post that I was going to tell you how I plan our day and how I lesson plan.  Turns out-I lied!  After yesterday's ridiculously looong winded post, I have decided that I need to make shorter posts.  So, this series is going to be at least 6 days.  Somethings just can't be summed up in 5 :).  

TOMORROW I will tell you about a typical day in our Montessori homeschool classroom and how I plan for each day.  I hope you'll stop by!

I am blogging as part of a blog cruise from The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.  We have over 65 bloggers blogging for 5 days about their favorite subjects.  There are some GREAT topics that I have been enjoying.  Be sure to check them out!



Jenn said...

How did I miss this series?? I'm so glad you left a comment or I would have missed it altogether!

Growing a Godly Girl said...

Great post! I've been forever looking for a good sequence to work off of. This is a great list of resources.

Growing a Godly Girl said...

I'm still confused on the order to present the math materials. Do you do the teen board and tens board prior to introducing the hundred and thousand quantities and where does the hundred board fit in?