We are in week two of Montessori Homeschooling! It’s the beginning of what will surely be an amazing journey. As I’m just getting started, all of the preparation is fresh in my mind.
I taught for several years in a primary Montessori classroom and still found it hard to put together the materials I wanted to use to start homeschooling with Peanut (age 4 – born in January)! So, I decided to put together a series about how to teach your child at home, with a focus on how to start Montessori homeschooling, in hopes to help others as they begin.
I’m a member of a few Montessori groups on facebook, and it seems common for people to worry about which materials to purchase or make, how to set up the classroom and what to start with. It makes sense. After all, these seem to be the main tools for learning. I, like many homeschoolers, started by thinking about what to use in our classroom space and it seemed like I needed all of the Primary Montessori materials at once. I wanted the pink tower, brown stair, sandpaper letters, spindle boxes, geography puzzles, zoology puzzles and much, much more!
Quickly, I realized that this wish list wouldn’t be possible financially or practically (we live in Guatemala…no online shopping here!). But, I also started to realize that it’s actually not necessary either.
Start Montessori Homeschooling by Following Your Child
Before I get into what I decided to include in our homeschooling beginnings, I want to say that as a Montessori teacher I LOVE and see value in all Montessori materials. I took a less traditional approach when putting our classroom together because I believe it’s more important to follow the philosophy than it is to provide all of the materials.
Kids love stamps. There’s something so satisfying about creating a perfect drawing on paper using stamps. They can be combined to create something fantastic and unique. Somehow, kids never grow bored using stamps.
It’s hard to find regular old stamps around here (in Guatemala). Most of them are made for teachers and have something like “Excelente!” written on them. So, I decided to put together some DIY stamps for kids…specifically for Peanut with some of his favorite things. I put them together for his birthday. He was thrilled!
These DIY stamps for kids are ideal for throwing into a busy bag for church, a meeting or long car ride. You could also break them out when you need a bit of quiet time at home. Peanut loved getting these out while his sister was napping – which was perfect timing. He was quietly busy, and his sister didn’t get in his way trying to
destroy play with them as well.
How did I do it?
“Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama!” is about the way a few hours of every day goes for me with my 17 month old. She insistently calls for me and wants to be held, hugged and paid attention to. So, we read books, sing together, cuddle, and
sometimes often times I find myself completing tasks with one hand while she’s happily perched on my hip.
But, like many moms, I put up with it and try to enjoy it as much as I can. She’ll only be this little so long. I know that it’s only a matter of time before she becomes more independent.
My nearly four-year-old on the other hand is quite independent. He likes the occasional snuggle and asks to be played with from time to time. But, most of the time he can be found happily digging with his trucks in the dirt, coloring pictures beside me while I work or making up an intricate story line with a few model dinosaurs. He also likes to help wash dishes and hang up laundry or page through a book.
As a baby and toddler, my son was similar to my daughter. He was attached to me or his father at most times. While he enjoyed wandering off on his own to play for a while, he was more often than not like velcro.
That’s my real life experience that shows me that being close and connected leads to independence. But, there’s more to it than one mom’s journey.
One of our favorite activities with the kids is making up stories, retelling stories and just general fun playing pretend. We often find ourselves using props such as model dinosaurs, cars, blocks to build houses, castles and bridges and dishes for making food. When we made our Clifford story retelling puppets we had such a blast I knew we had to come up with another story telling tool. So, I give you our very own DIY Magnet Busy Board for Story Telling Fun!
Story retelling and story telling is such an important skill for little ones! It improves their reading comprehension, promotes a greater understanding of sequencing and increases creativity and vocabulary. You can’t go wrong spending time story telling with your little ones.
Our DIY magnet busy board was fun and easy to make, and we did it with a few extras we had lying around. All we had to purchase was some spray paint and magnet strip. Follow the steps below to make your very own.
Freedom. The ability to move around. Freedom to choose. Picking what activities to complete and in what order. This strikes fear into the hearts of many parents. Perhaps you think that the absence of control must certainly result in mayhem and chaos. Perhaps you wonder how this freedom thing could possibly work?
Whether at home or at school, freedom is an integral part of using the Montessori philosophy. However, this freedom shouldn’t cause you anxiety. It serves a purpose.
It must be some sort of rule. All toddlers seem to LOVE water play. And have you ever noticed how at a certain stage, babies become determined to move on their own, struggling until they achieve the ability to walk?
These are examples of sensitive periods.
Throughout childhood, children experience a number of sensitive periods. Some last for years at a time, and others may only last several months. Montessori coined the phrase “sensitive periods” to refer to times when children have an especially strong motivation and interest to learn about a particular subject or master a certain skill. In her observations, she discovered that many children share a lot of the same interests around the same time in their development.
How Can You Use Them?
As parents and teachers, we can take advantage of these sensitive periods to help guide our children’s learning. A perfect example is language. Montessori noticed that children experience a sensitive period in language from birth through about age 6.
There are so many parenting hacks out there, but not all of them are mainstream. Each parent finds their own unique ways (or parenting hacks) of dealing with the joys and challenges of parenting. Some of mine are on the wacky side – I’d definitely say some of them are unconventional…but they also keep me sane (well, most of the time, anyway). These are the parenting hacks I notice others occasionally give me a raised eyebrow about…but hey, to each their own and I’m glad to say that I’ve found what works for me. Here they are:
Positive reinforcement is a popular parenting technique. Basically it means parents and caregivers praise good behavior. This way, children are motivated to continue their good behavior due to the positive attention they’ve received. Positive reinforcement can also include sticker charts and other similar incentives. All sounds good, right?
Yes and no.
Positive reinforcement can be very helpful for children. It can help them learn that good behavior is appreciated and that their efforts pay off. But, it can also turn into a big happy praise fest that teaches your child that they are the BEST, in the worst cases resulting in narcissism.
I’m preparing some more educational materials for Peanut since we haven’t placed him in preschool yet. Maybe in 2018…we’ll see. For now, home is the place to be for learning!
If you know Peanut, you know some of his favorite things are dinosaurs and snakes. Insects and other reptiles are also high on his list. So, I decided to come up with a snake study unit. In this unit we will use or do:
- A snake book for kids
- A mini study on the biggest snake in the world
- A measuring project
- Worksheets and coloring sheets
- A snake counting activity
- Snakes around the world with the continents
Ready to rock it?
One of my parenting goals this year is to teach my oldest about advent. What better way than through an advent calendar for kids plus daily activities? The combination of reading a bible verse and doing some fun holiday activities such as making decorations, baking cookies and setting up the nativity scene not only teaches about the meaning of Christmas, but will also bring us closer together as a family.
Make Your Own Advent Calendar for Kids
We had lots of fun making the advent calendar together. The basic idea of this calendar is that each day we’ll break open one of the numbers. This is very appealing to Peanut…he can’t wait to punch through the paper to see what’s inside! I also find it quite tempting, I must admit. Inside are 2 slips of paper, one is a Bible verse and one is an advent activity, and a small piece of candy for each of my kids.