Starting Montessori at Home

February 15, 2012

in In the home, Parenting, Philosophy

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is,

How do I start teaching my children with the Montessori method at home?

The plethora of information out there can be overwhelming and it’s hard to know where to start. If you’re interested in using the Montessori Method in your home, this is what I’d suggest:

Research the Montessori Method

Starting Montessori at Home
Get to know what the Montessori philosophy is all about and who Montessori was. My first interaction with Montessori was in a traditional college class overviewing the numerous educational philosophies. My professor painted the Montessori Method as a ridiculous free for all where the children were in charge, little to no learning happened, and the older children were inhibited by the presence of younger children. Now, having working in a Montessori school, taking an Infant/Toddler course, and researching the philosophy for myself I know that is the furtherest thing from the truth.

Read good books on the Montessori Method. Visit a Montessori classroom to see the method in action. Many schools offer regular tours and offer parent classes to learn more about the Method. Learn about Montessori herself. Knowing Maria Montessori’s history as a doctor and her work with children with disabilities has endeared my heart to the Method more than anything. She saw potential and the ability to learn in children society had casted off as unteachable.

Evaluate Whether it Fits Your Family

the decision to start homeschooling

From your research, knowing your children, and your season in life, evaluate whether the Montessori Method is a good fit for your family.

  • What are your goals for schooling at home?
  • What are your children’s learning styles?
  • Will you be able to budget educational costs?
  • How many children will be “doing school”?
  • Does homeschooling fit into your season of life?

Make the Decision to Start

starting Montessori homeschooling

Make the decision to start, but I’d suggest to start small and one bite at a time. It’d be easy with the excitement and eagerness for the Montessori philosophy to do too much too fast.

Start with building a Montessori lifestyle: explore, respect the child, follow the child’s interests, slow down, involve them in your everyday work, and give them sensory experiences.

Then, begin to add basic Montessori activities with materials at home, like practical life and sensory activities. Read lots of books. Give children greater (supported) independence. Find a school routine that works for your family and add to it slowly. Depending on the age of your children, you might want to start with 30-minutes a day and work up by 15 or 30-minute increments every week or so.

Once you feel you have a grasp on the Method and your family has a found a good routine, add to the materials and decide what type of financial investment you want to make.

Cultivate the Environment (Physical & Mental)

Prepared Environment – Child’s Room

Begin to make your home a prepared environment. I wrote a pretty thourough series on the prepared environment in the summer:

Follow the Child

Montessori pin poking

Pay attention to your child’s sensitive periods. What type of activities do they gravitate toward? Is there a particular skill or subject matter they’re particularly passionate and driven about? Stay there and help them to gain all they can.

Keep their pace. Just because they’re doing great with a pair of tongs, doesn’t mean they’re quite ready for tweezing. Perhaps give them an option  to use tweezers, but don’t rush them to the next step.

Homemade Materials

Start with homemade materials. They’re easy to make and most of the materials you have in your home. Most practical life activities can be supplied in the family kitchen: bowls, spoons, tongs, pitchers, measuring cups (for nesting), alunimum cans, and herb jars (sound cylinders).

Cardboard boxes are great for making imbucare boxes, lacing cards, and open and close activities.

Here are a few homemade materials I’ve made:

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Starting Montessori homeschooling can be a big endeavor, but you can adapt and add a little bit here and there while you getting your feet wet until you find what works best for you.

Recommended Reading*

 

*affiliate links

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mariann Seaman June 16, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Nice to see some of these book recommendations. We have recommended several of the same titles on our site: http://www.sweetwatermontessori.com/Recommended_Reading_for_Parents_New_to_Montessori.htm
One thing that home schooling parents should consider is perhaps sending their child to a Montessori school part-day. That might seem to contradict the concept of home schooling, but hear me out. In a good school, this can offer the benefits of the social peer interaction your child needs in a safe and nurturing environment that might not exist in typical daycare facilities or other organized child group activities. It avoids the costs of purchasing all of the (expensive) Montessori materials for yourself, allows your child to be lead by a competent, sensitive and trained Montessorian for just a few hours per day, while allowing far more contact between you and your child than a full-day program would allow. At least in our state, the time in a full day program beyond the first few hours will be consumed by mandatory nap time, meal time, and extra outside play time. None of that is necessarily a bad thing, but why not allow the school to do the heavy lifting with respect to learning, while you direct (and participate in) the remaining time in your child’s life as he or she needs and as you see fit? There are many things that parents can and should share with their children, and learning is certainly a crucial part of that. But if you are fortunate enough to have access to a good Montessori school that loves your child and has all the tools, training and experience to make the most of the Montessori method in your child’s education, then it may make sense to utilize that resource in a way that fits into the desired lifestyle that lead you to your decision to home school in the first place. Our school, Sweetwater Montessori School in New Bern, NC ( http://www.sweetwatermontessori.com ) has a three hour per day pre-school program (four hours per day for kindergarten) that many homeschoolers have found to their liking. Check to see if there is such a school in your area and see what they have to offer before you decide to just go it alone. Good luck on your journey, whatever path you take!

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