Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Montessori Family

We are going to be a Montessori family even as we homeschool. To that end, at our last family night together at this school, I asked the girls to show me their very favorite works, so that we can be sure to recreate them together at home.

Here we have the geo board with rubber bands:
I've been wanting to make one of those forever, anyway, and I also have instructions from a recent issue of for turning it into a small marble maze.

LOTS of scooping and transferring works:Sydney loves her sensory experiences, so I see lots of sand tables and rice tables and dried bean tables and river rock tables in our future.

Willow loves her photography, especially catching her sister:Sydney likes to smile for Willow just until Willow is a second away from clicking the shutter button, and then she'll hide her face as quick as she can, but Willow caught her this time.

Neither of the girls bring home these labelling works very often, but aren't they wonderful?
I'd like to have a large assortment of these kinds of activities at the ready to bring out whenever a child shows an interest in a relevant topic.

Willow loves the scrubbing station, which changes often--sometimes a gourd, sometimes a pumpkin, sometimes a big piece of driftwood, and sometimes this wonderful, large conch shell:
Sometimes Willow has the responsibility for washing some dishes at the kitchen sink, but one of the first things that I'd like to accomplish when we homeschool full-time is to rearrange the kitchen so that each child can be responsible for (and successful at) washing her own cups and plates after every use.

I have the making of lots of these types of geometry puzzles and manipulatives in mind:
There's a space in the living room that seems as if it would be a pretty good spot for temporary installations of a week or so. The electric football game hung out there for a while, for instance, before I got sick of it and it had to go live back in the playroom. Sometimes, instead of electric football, I imagine that a little science experiment could hang out there, such as this "Will It Float?" work that so absorbs the girls:And the math manipulatives!!!I don't think that I'll be doing number beads exactly the way Montessori does them, but I will be doing them, and yep, we'll be going all the way up to 9,000, too, because I find the visualization of this simple concept to be both amazing, and one of the foundations that makes the Montessori program itself so amazing.

Sydney also loves this little game:You each have a little basket of things, and there is a stack of cards in front of you. Taking turns, you draw a number, not letting your playmates see it, and count out the appropriate number of things in front of you. Then your playmates have to count those things and tell you what number you have. The kids LOVE it.

As they love dancing. Here they're all doing one of my favorites, Jump Jim Joe: The dance begins with one pair of children. After every verse, each child who danced must find a new partner, and then they dance again. So two children become four, who become eight, who become sixteen. By the fifth verse all the children in the class are dancing, and then they still do several more verses, because it's equally fun to mill around in the circle to procure your new partner as it is to Jump Jim Joe.

Since you're not under-the-rock dwellers, I'm sure you can imagine that we have taken a lot of heat for our decision to homeschool the girls after this year. And it's good to have these conversations, because our children's education is something that we should always participate in thoughtfully. But the one argument, and perhaps the only one that I've heard so far, that I find actually offensive is that I should send my children to public school in order to support public school. If everyone just pulled their kids out, public school would crash. Instead, parents should work to make a difference in their schools.

It is my responsibility not as a parent, but as a citizen, to support public school, and I do. It is my responsibility not as a parent, but as a citizen, to work to make a difference in my community's public schools, and I try. All citizens, whether or not they are parents, should do the same.

It is my responsibility as a parent to choose the best method of schooling for my own children. I firmly believe in a child's right to a free education, but I won't sacrifice my own children to that political ideal if I don't believe that the free education that they will receive will be the best education for them. Yes, I'll work for a better educational system, but I won't submit my own children to education that isn't already the best.

My children adore their Montessori school, and it is, for them, a terrific method of schooling. If we could afford to send them back next year, we would. If our public schools worked exactly like that Montessori school, we'd be even happier to send them there. But you know what? The girls are also going to ADORE homeschooling, and it is going to be, for them, also terrific.
But oh, we have been very happy in this place, too.


cake said...

it is sad, and also just weird to me, that we can't all have montessori education available to us. here we have a system that works so beautifully, why can't we just adopt that as the public school model?

julie said...

Wouldn't that be amazing? There are some great Montessori charter schools out there, but I imagine that even the lottery to get into those if you're in their district is pretty heartbreaking.

kirsten said...

i love this because i love montessori ideas. need to work more of them in my homeschool!

julie said...

I think that Montessori is going to work GREAT with the kind of unschooling/unit study homeschooling plans that I've made so far.