Monday, 9 September 2013

Delusions of Montessori Grandeur

Do you ever have moments when you question the status quo?   Moments when you get an idea in your head that changing things could be better/healthier/ more productive/glorious for every one involved?  Han Solo-esque "delusions of grandeur"?

I had one of those moments last week when I realised that homeschooling my kids could change everything.  We would save money, time, money, fuel - and therefore, the environment, and, did I mention, money?

Now, this idea - like most of my more brilliant ideas - usually arises during periods of intense sleep deprivation.  Periods when my neurons are firing randomly in their exhaustion.  Firing into parts of my brain that have been forgotten in this anesthetic world of being at home with the kids.

Last week, I spent my spare time talking to friends about it and reading everything I could about homeschooling, homeschooling in Australia, in the Northern Territory and different education approaches - in particular Montessori. (My kids currently attend a school that uses Montessori approaches in their Preschool.)

I envisaged a future of happily engaged, intellectually stimulated, emotionally stable children thriving in the loving, tailored environment which I would create.  I got quite excited about the idea of lesson planning again.  Observing my children, Maria Montessori style and creating activities based around their current interests.

I got so excited about the whole concept that I put this activity together for my seven year old after observing his excitment about the new NFL season (Grid Iron, for us Aussies) as he was identifying all of the teams he knew.

With this activity, he had to identify the team, establish whether they represented a state or city, locate it in the atlas and then glue into onto the map.  Two solid hours without a break and he did not want to stop.  Joy!

Following discussions with the other half of this parenting team, we decided that yes, I could totally rock this homeschooling business- the academic side, at least.  We agreed, however, that the social side of schooling was as important as the academic.  Especially for one of our boys who really struggles with reading social clues and situations and needs to see those modeled more frequently, and with more variety, than he would get at home, even with my best efforts to socialise.

So, I'm going to do the next best thing.  I am going to provide a home environment that supports and builds upon the information being delivered at school, activities that provide extension or remedial work where required and special tasks that cater to their individual interests.

I started small - a quick transferring activity with blocks and tongs.

Then made this cute pegging activity. (Most early Montessori activities are designed to build early writing skills.  Pegging helps practice the pincer grip required for holding a pencil correctly.)

I spent the weekend putting together this practical life area with a child-sized kitchen, utensils and food.  What a winner!

Add a cup of water to the pot and we ended up with one captivated kid.  His older brother spent some time out there this afternoon too.

Now, Montessori can be expensive.  Their unique, specially designed wooden toys are expensive to purchase.  But, I have been pinning like a mad woman and have a list of activities that I want to start making/assembling that capture the essence of the Montessori approach with out costing a lot of money.

I loved the activities on this site, and the fact that Dana has broken them down according to the age at which she introduced them to her son.

I'll keep you posted on how I go, and share some more activities as I make them.  We are planning a playroom makeover soon which will help make all this a reality.

So, tell me, what's been your grandest delusion?  Did it pay off?  Or maybe you'd like to chat about educational philosophies? Leave a comment, they make my day...

2 comments:

  1. This is such an interesting post. Thanks for all the links. After a rough time in year three socially, I seriously flirted with the idea of home schooling my son but I just didn't know if I would have the patience or fortitude to handle the inevitable days when a nine year old boy doesn't feel like working! My husband and I also came to the conclusion that he needed the ongoing social interaction in order to learn how to navigate conflict, etc. so we compromised by changing schools and it has been a fantastic change for the better (thank goodness!) But I will definitely be using some of those homeschooling ideas as extracurricular activities and for my nearly 3 year old. Good luck with it all hon.

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    1. Hi Michelle,
      Thanks so much for your feedback. I'm glad it's not just me who worries about all this! It can be really hard to make the right decisions about our kids, hey? I'm so glad things have worked out for your son.
      I'm really excited about how my youngest two are enjoying the new montessori "toys". Will definitely post some more.
      Sarah

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