Q. Can I do Montessori at home with my child?
A. Yes, you can use Montessori principles of child development and education at home. Look at your home through your child's eyes. Children need a sense of belonging and of being needed. They get it by participating fully in the routines of everyday life. "Help me do it by myself" is the life theme of the preschooler. Can you find ways for your child to participate in meal preparation, cleaning, gardening, caring for clothes, shoes, and toys? Providing opportunities for independence is the surest way to build your child's self-esteem.
In the Montessori 3-6 class the environment is filled with cultural, artistic, scientific activities . There is no junk food, no television, no computer. Books, toys, and other educational materials are carefully chosen and of the best quality. The child is never forced to attend a lesson or do a piece of work. The teacher is trained to model kindness and consideration, to observe the child and follow her interests in suggesting work, to give careful, individual lessons, and to refrain from interrupting when the child is concentrating on an activity. Much of this can be created in the home.
Q. What about socialization?
A. The word socialization, contrary to the opinion
of some, does not mean spending the weekdays competing with 25 human
beings one's own age. In a natural community children spend
their daily lives with old people, babies, and everyone in between.
They do not compete, but learn to search out the needs of
others and to help them live and learn. This mixed age group
and habit of teaching and helping others, and being helped and taught
by people younger or older than oneself, is a part of Montessori
classes at all ages and is easy to fit into the Montessori homeschooling
Q. What Montessori ideas can I use for school age children?
A. Here are a few of many:
A HOMESCHOOL STORY
Written at the request of the organizers of the 2001 California Home-Education Conference, who highly recommend the Michael Olaf publications:
Our son Michael was homeschooled. His education consisted, for a large part, of playing with the products, and reading the books, which we have carried in our Michael Olaf Montessori catalogues. We allowed him unlimited timedays, nights, weekendsto explore and chose his own path, offering everything but respecting his choices. Our goal was to find products that would make EVERY subject interesting to children.
We, the parents, both worked full time (mother in home office) so we spent very little time "educating" Michael. During the elementary years, we helped him keep up to grade level in math and English, but that only took two or three hours a week at the most. We do not have TV, video games, or computer games in our home, and have always been careful to have only wholesome books and educational materials available, so we have not had to limit TV time or engage in other common family struggles.
Over the years Michael attended a local music academy for several hours every Saturday, and a "homeschooling school" sometimes (playing, field trips, other children!) for one or two days a week.
At age fifteen, in what would have been his ninth grade school year, Michael passed the CHSPE and received a high school certificate; then he took his first class, intermediate orchestra, at Humboldt State University. That summer he went to the Calgary Conservatory in Canada and became a certified Suzuki piano teacher. Since that time he has earned 35 units at HSU, in classes selected because of the interesting teachers or interesting subjects (drama, physics, history, music). He has done a lot of social work in various settings, and tithes 10% of his earnings. He worked hard to prepare for ACT and SAT tests, but only for a few months, and all of his scores were over 600because, we believe, he had had years of enjoyable exploration in all subjects.
For two years now Michael has earned his own money playing with professional music groups and teaching music. He has toured or traveled in the Northwest USA, South America, Europe, and Cuba. Next fall he will attend Brown University, where he has received a very generous scholarship.
We believe that education should be enjoyable, orif something must be learned that is not funthe child should clearly understand the importance of learning it. If we can make education and hard work satisfying and enjoyable for our children, we have given them experiences that can lead to a productive and happy life.
Over the last fifteen years we have learned a lot from homeschooling, and from other homeschooling families. The text of our catalogues reflects this and is constantly changed as we continue to learn. We believe that homeschooling is the most important educational movement today, and we hope that our work is helpful to YOU in your own homeschooling journey.
Jim & Susan Stephenson