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I have a few things on my working table (that along with everything else…)

The first material I have completed is for my son: Number and counters.  He loves it, but he is just above this, so I need to work other things for him…

I used blue dots from a game we had here, and I bought number chipboards at my local art store (scrapboking aisle)  I bought some red paint, and painted the chips.  Voilà.  That was an easy one.

And this is what is in the work:

Sandpaper numbers (the green squares), sandpaper letters (needs paint…), spindle box (2) sandpaper tablets for DD, and red and blue rods for DS.  I should be able to complete all this this weekend.  Can wait to add this to our cuurent material, and add that activities 🙂

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I have started to gather a few things and organise the basement, which is our designated Montessori area.

I am currently following an online Montessori course, where we are commonly studing the montessori method.  Currently, we are working on the Practical life album.

Practical life was already something close to my heart, and already establised for many things here.  So It was rather easy to put a couple of trays together.

I see practical life as an important part of homeschooling, and an easy part to do.  I have indeed put up some trays together, per the Montessori method, but there are many lessons that are given unformally, according to what we are doing and their current interest.

A few details:

Cleaning caddy

the beginning of the music corner (to be worked on)

the work table

The work mat (for now)

Temporary sensorial shelves

THE CHALLENGES SO FAR

I have a 2 1/2 and a 4 1/2, and I clearly see a difference between them, which make it difficult, IMO, to make all of this work al the time.  Sometimes my youngest would like to imitate her big brother and is not quite ready yet, and that obviously frustrate her a lot.   This is something I am not yet certain of how to deal with.  And at the same time, I feel like the Practical life shelves are more geared towards her (DS has ben there done that a lot at school I think) and sometimes he changes activity a lot of time, and has a hard time to really settle in one work.  I have to start putting out things that are more age adequate for him.

Another challenge is to really keep their attention focused through all this.  In a school setting, you have the power of the group to keep you settled on what you are currently working on.  But here, there are many distractions, and they are with mom…It is hard to keep them always working on the material as they have been showed, and I have yet to develop tricks, and ways to acts when this happens.

time will tll I guess…

Our house have been greatly inspired by the Montessori pedagogy since our kids were babies.  It has evolved over the years, and got also inspired at some point by the Waldorf philosophy: simplicity, beauty…

Since our little 3rd one is on the way, we had to make a few rearrangments to provide a space for this new addition to our family. And since we only have 3 rooms, we hade to squeeze a little tighter.

So this weekend, we merge both my son’s and daugther’s room to give them ample time to get used to their new environment.  Not an easy task nor for them, or for us, but I think we have managed out part fairly well.  Now, they have to work theirs.. 😉

So here is their new room, as you will see, very Montessori inspired.

My son’s area:

My Dd’s area

SMALL DETAILS:

Chair useful when dressing up right now

Hooks for  clothes and school bag

the music area.  An old radio and a basket of CD’s underneath the table.  They spend much time round it just listening to music.  I am trying to set up a similar environement in the “classroom” but with composer music, and 3 part lessons.

Plate to put outdoor finds in it

I have 2 carpets in there for quiet activities that are done on the floor.

the only thing lacking right now are art on the walls.  They each had their own set of art, but I am finding that I have a hard tme merging that together.  So I am still working on my ideas, and will add to that later.

Bathroom area:

Kitchen cupboard

there is a couple of things missing that are in the diswasher…a small pitcher, a couple of plates..

But they have everything at hand to be able to serve themsevles a snack, or set the table.  At the far end of the lower shelve is DS’s lunchbox for school days.  So he can help prepare his own lunch

I am right now working on the classroom area downstairs, and a small place upstairs to put the material for some practical life activity to be done around mealtime (cleaning, setting up dinner, table…)

Informations about homeschooling isn’t something that is common around here, even less when we are talking Montessori homschooling.  But I have found that with a little search around the internet, some information do come up.

So this post is intented to be a list of the useful ressources that I have found here and there.  Of course, some informations are in french, and other in english, but I find that informations are way more accessible in english (or I have yet to find the french pot of gold.

MY INSPIRATIONS:

Sew liberated / Former Montessori by Hand This is the first blog that really hooked me up on Montessori.  I love everything she does.

Montessori for everyone : Super interesting blog about homeschooling using the Montessori method, and also a store with many PDF files.

BLOG ROLL:

Montessori with a baby in french

Using Montessori at home from My Montessori house: some great information like a daily schedule, some DIY tricks,

Montessori for infant and toddler from My Montessori house: same author as previous, but this time intended for Toddler and infant.

A bit of this and of that: A montessori mom that talks of this and that.  And there is an awesome link page!

Beautiful sun Montessori

Secret of childhood: Blog roll is interesting

Adventure of a rainbow mama Waldorf and Montessori inspired

Homemade Montessori

Our Montessori Story

The learning ark

Montessori à la maison SOme great images of implementing Montessori in the house

Homemade homeschool : a mom just starting out…

Cultivating Dharma : some great links and info

Homeschool with Montessori: Homeschooling with older kids

École et cabrioles French bloging site

Montessori mom some good links

I have been interested in the Montessori pedagogy for a while.  As you can see, I already have been able to read a quite a few books on the topic, at that moment, with a parent point of view, and not a homeschooler, nor as a college teacher (which I am).  After making the decision that we would homeschool, I got out the books I already owned, and went to the library to get some more, this time to read with another perspective in mind.

I will be, in the next few weeks, be doing book reviews to try to get out the concepts and information that I could find useful in my endeavor.  And  have to admit that the more I read, the more addicted I am to this pedagody…and secretly plotting to eventually be able to apply this method with my college students in my classes. (I have even started to get books about the older age range and the methods used at that point)

SO I started with a first read of the Montessori writings.  It was “L’enfant” (the child), a book writte byt Dr Montessori herself about her views of the preschooler.  It was a quick read, but yet very enlighting.

Here are the conclusions that I have drawn from that book:

You need 3 external point in order to be able to use the “method”

-the adapted ambiance

-the humble master

-The material

I guess these 3 are what Dr montessori refered to the “prepared environnement”

There are also internal factors that are essentials to the good results seen byt Dr Montessori in her first Casa Dei Bambini

Concentrated Individual work (in my opinion making homeschooling a possibility even if this method was not intended for homeschooling)

Repetition of the exercice

Free choice of the work to be done

and this is how the “conversion” can be achieved.

Maria Montessori thought that every child, given these factors, would develop to it’s full potential,and reveal the true Men inside him.  All his energy are driven towards constructing himself.  But if, for some reasons, the conditions are not met, deviations start to appear, because all this energy, inside the child, are not send “at the right place”, and deviate to create unusual behaviors.

These deviated behaviors include: disorder, disobedience, greed, egoism, tamtrums…but also creative imagination (!), liking stories, attachment, curiosity, inconsistancy, instability, which are all traits that we consider normal in the young child.  I have to admit that I was particularly surprized when reading this part!  I really thought that creative imagination was something desirable in the young child, and was somehow distress to see the lack of this in my own children (when I was talking about them being down to earth, that was what I meant).  But from what I understand, it is a good thing.  A child living in the best conditions to permit the maturation of his own self don’t need to imaginate things, to create stories, or play with toys.  He is much rather interested in discovering his environement, and practicing the things he has learn.  Again, the play with toy thing, which is something I have noted here. Toys are not my kid’s thing.

Overall, I thought this book was an interesting read to start with.  It helps me see what he line of thought is about preschoolers, which makes subsequent reads easier to understand.  I know where she is coming from…  Of course, there are part of this book where you feel like everytime kids misbehave or throw some kind of tamtrum, is the parent’s resposabilty, and that if you knew better, or did better, or understood the child better, the later would suddenly be the perfect little human being. (her illustrations of a situations are really like that)  But I think she still makes her point.

LOOK AT THE CHILD

THis is a really small book written by Alice Wolf.  It is a very fast read, but yet very interesting.

It shows the basics of the Montessori principles, with illustrations.  THings like “listen to the child” And “understand her impulses” are the things that are illustrated.  The power of the hand, and the necessity to be involved in the real life.

It was a perfect book to show my husband, who is not a reader, to grasp the basic concept of the method.

I am finally coming out of my hiatus.  Many changes have occured recently in our lives, and some important realisations have also been made.  One of them being our methods of “education”.

I do not like using this term, as I don’t feel and don’t want to be educating my children as the word usually make it sound.  I like to think of it as our way of living our lives, and influencing our young ones towards their own selves.  Helping them to develop as they are meant to be, and finding who they really are, what they really like, and what they really think.

We have, for the last months or so, been living following the Waldorf ideology.

Waldorf is a wonderful pedagogy that wishes  to protect the senses of the child, and makes sure that he will not be exposed to things (ex reading) before  he reach a certain age, a point in developement where is should be ready,

Waldorf wants to make the mind work, the imaginary part most of all.  Fairies and gnomes are important figures of the teaching, and are even used in the classroom to help learn language and maths.  It is enchanting to think about it really!  I am sure it would have made my math class more interesting…  Down to earth, and practical things are taught too, how to knit, felt, make dolls, which I think is amazing.  Cooking and the kitchen is also a turning point in a Waldorf house, where kids are encouraged to participate to the making of their meals.  Rhythms, rituals, celebrations are keyword of the Waldorf education leading to special and magical moments of sharing and learning.  And all this learning is made in a wonderful medium:  ARTS.  Arts are not taught in a waldorf school, it is used in and every day basis, in all the classes.  Students have to draw their lessons, in their lesson books.  And you should see those lesson books.  WOW, some of them are just amazing!  Watercolors, block crayons, beewax modeling, all natural materials, with rich and yet peaceful colors, wooden toys…what is there not to like about this?

But then, where is Waldorf?

We did try it.   But after a few months, I have to admit that aside those values that are cherished here and have already been implemented for long before finding about Waldorf, some other things are just not fitting in.  Pea and Peanut have been clearly been showing us that while some of those Waldorfian ideals are very interesting, being what they are, realistic, down to earth, cartesian, rational…they are just not able to live by something that is so imaginative.  Forget about the fairies, and the gnomes, my kids much rather build a house for the squirrel that live on the other side of the street, or the bee that makes yummy honey.

My kids like to learn, learn the real and tangible things of life.  When they play, they play that they are going to work, and speaking to “important people” on the phone. And this is not because we taught them to do that…

Given the choice between a toy or helping out in the house, the choice is clear, they much rather do the real life stuff, and learn about the world that surrounds them and how it work then to play with the most amazing doll house (or truck) ever.

When I see them go around, I see what Maria Montessori has described abour kids.  They are interested about learning about their environement, and how it work, and contribute to that, and that is what their play is about.  It is about working, and THEY LIKE IT!

I think Montessori and Waldorf have some things in common, but not that much.  They both hope for a joyful, and well adjusted child that grows into the best person that can be.  But I think that their interpretation of what the child is, and how he grows and what it takes to get there is totally different.

And with all that being said, I doubt that one method is better over the other.  I think one method fits more for a child then the other.  And this is he conclusion we are arriving to.  The Montessori method is way better adapted for the kind of people we are, and most of all for the kind of people my kids are.

I have been realzing this for a while, and all that time, what I felt inside was “FOLLOW THE CHILD”  Maria Montessori’s famous words.  And that is what’s brigning me back to my first love.  I am following my children.

Heck, I will be, and am totally influenced by many Waldorf principals, and many Waldorfy things will be applied here in our home.  But I cannot deny what the evidence is showing me.  My kids are Montessorians, and so am I.

SO off to a new path, one I feel I have a lot of work to do on, loads of reading, preparing and learning.  But I think it will be all worth it.