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Homeschooling

The Montessori Method was not designed for homeschooling. This must be said.

However...

When you read enough of Maria Montessori's books or books about her or the method, you discover that she attempted to always use the same philosophy and have things adapted as needed. So, while the Montessori Method was not designed for homeschooling, it can be adapted for homeschooling and still be the Montessori Method. Just not what you would see in a school.

Have I completely lost you?

Let's start by looking a little bit at the philosophy.

The primary goal of Montessori education could be summed up as to assist the child's development towards independence in the society within which s/he lives. This applies to all ages, not only to the school-aged child. The adult is to make sure to not hinder the child's growth in any way. The child is provided a carefully planned and prepared environment in which he has the freedom, within limits, to do as he wishes.

As well, there are certain basic beliefs about children:

  • They want to learn and enjoy learning--if nothing has gotten in the way of that.
  • They deserve respect and our belief in them.
  • Each child is unique and will learn things at his own pace and will have his own interests.
  • Teaching academics is not enough--the whole child must be addressed.

 

What does a Montessori environment consist of?

  • A prepared teacher, who is gentle, respectful, observant, and is to assist the child in its development and not hinder it. At times, this requires a total inner change. It requires continually deepening one's understanding of the Montessori philosophy, making sure that the environment is prepared. It also requires changing our views of children and the causes of their behaviours.

    Some Montessori training organizations will tell you that you can't homeschool with the Montessori Method if you haven't had the proper training. Truth be told, Maria Montessori did state that proper training was a must, and yet she continued to help those who could not have thorough training to apply the method in their homes.
     
  • A prepared environment consisting of materials and activities which aid in the child's development, attract the child's interest, are appropriate to his needs and lead him to "auto-education", learning and discovering on his own without necessarily being specifically taught.
     
  • The child.

How does this all work at home?

Each Montessori homeschool will have its own way of doing things. Some families use the Montessori materials to supplement a curriculum that they are already using. Others follow the philosophy and don't really have many materials. Others try to incorporate a bit of both. Each homeschool will be unique since it will be made up of different children and situations.

How much do the materials cost?

The materials tend to be quite expensive. That is why many Montessori homeschoolers spend a fair amount of time making materials. However, a Montessori homeschool, not having 30-some kids every day for years, does not need the same breadth of materials that a school would need, nor do they need to be quite as durable. Certain materials are quite difficult to make and many families do without or find what they consider a suitable substitution. Whether Maria Montessori would approve or not, who knows? We all do what we can.

If you are interested in making your own materials, montessorimakers and Montessori Materials are great starting places. The best books I know of for making materials are Elizabeth Hainstock's books "Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years", "Teaching Montessori in the Home: The School Years," and David Gettman's "Basic Montessori".

What is a typical day like?

Again, each homeschool will be unique. At my home, I have two children of my own, plus 4 other children in my care, ages 16 months through 15 years, who come to my house. There are days which run very smoothly--the children are engaged in purposeful activities all day long--and other days where there are arguments, little work is done or there is a constant move towards playing.

There are some typical characteristics in my home, though. We have  one 3-hour work cycle every day. Maria Montessori discovered that children work best when they are given a 3-hour period in which to work. This 3-hour period will have about an hour to 1.5 hours of solid work time, followed by a few minutes of restlessness and noisiness, then back to another solid work period. This definitely occurs in my home. We tend to start working between 7:45 and 8:00.. Around 9:30, there is a general unrest, then they get back to work until about 10:45-11:00.

I don't yet have an environment in which the students keep themselves busy with all subject areas on their own. Also, a couple of the students do fairly well being directed very little, while one has to be directed almost all the time. This is the nature of my homeschool due to the children in it.

We do use workbooks and textbooks, as a guide and as a means of doing independent work. In a Montessori school setting, there are lots of other students to keep everyone working. At home, it becomes a little more difficult and workbooks, textbooks or lots of time with the "teacher" (aka mom) are more commonplace than in a Montessori school.

 

 

 

 

The method of observation is established upon one fundamental base--the liberty of the pupils in their spontaneous manifestations.

With this in view, I first turned my attention to the question of environment, and this, of course, included the furnishing of the schoolroom. In considering an ample playground with space for a garden as an important part of this school environment, I am not suggesting anything new.

"The Montessori Method"
by M
aria Montessori
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pedagogical method of observation has for its base the liberty of the child; and liberty is activity.

"The Montessori Method"
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No one can be free unless he is independent: therefore, the first, active manifestations of the child's individual liberty must be so guided that through this activity he may arrive at independence.

"The Montessori Method"
 

 

 

Montessori homeschooling links

Montessori Home Education--Lisia Grocott's page

Montessori Mom

The Montessori e-mail Newsletter

Montessori Homeschooling--"created by and for homeschooling families"

Montessori homeschooling links at about.com

Montessori at Home--great overview of the method and the subject areas

Curriculum Connections by JMJ Publishing

Liveable Learning--Yahoo Group run by a homeschooler from JMJ Publishing. Focus is on creating an appropriate environment and on inner preparation of the teacher.

Flybaby_Homeschoolers--okay, this isn't a Montessori group, but the owner of this Yahoo Group is a homeschooling mom, trying to incorporate FlyLady and Montessori into her home. Fantastic support group for homeschoolers trying to get their homes in order.