I'm Bethany. I have two children, Alexander (4 years) and Annabelle (1.5 years). I have been doing Montessori-inspired activities with Alexander for about a year. We plan to use the Keys of the World curriculum. Follow me along here, on Instagram, on Facebook, or on Snapchat (username: blwideas). I'm learning as I go and sharing what I love and what I learn.
I'm not a pro. I'm constantly learning. But after doing activities with Alexander for a while, I learned that I was basically doing Montessori homeschooling; I just didn't know that's what it was called. Once I read more about it, I knew it was a good fit for us. We are a child-led family. We followed Alexander when it came to nursing, sleeping, eating, and pretty much anything that can be child-led. Montessori is child-led at its core.
As a former high school teacher, I saw so many students come to me, at ages 15, 16, 17, who just weren't ready to be in that grade level. But they were pushed through and barely passed to make it that far. They hated to learn because it was confusing or just not interesting. Learning should be fun. And it wasn't for so many high school students. It doesn't make sense that every 5 year old will be interested in learning sight words in November of 1st grade (or whenever the teacher teaches that). Some 5 year olds will be ready much earlier and others, much later. To set a rigid schedule for learning is fighting against a child's natural interest in things.
Instead, Montessori says to follow the child. If the child is interested in jungles, then you learn about jungles. If the child wants to learn how to count by 5s, that's when you teach counting by 5s. Not sooner, not later. You expose him or her to the material (via presentations). If they are interested, they'll show you. If they aren't, then you put the presentation away and try again another day. It makes so much sense to me.
Another aspect of Montessori is simplicity. Focus. Care for your environment. You'll see simple shelves with baskets and trays. You won't see things that light up or play music (except musical instruments). Electronics aren't really part of it. Think about it... Let's say you have a toy fire truck. There are 3 buttons on the top, each one making a different siren sound. The child presses one button and hears a siren. Press another button, a different sound. The child is not given any opportunity to use his imagination! What a lot of parents do is take out the batteries so that the toy can still be a source of creativity. (I mention a 3-button fire truck because Alexander has two of them and loves them. They are fine! They just aren't for the school area.)
Finally, I've noticed that Alexander is much more calm when we do school time every day. There are no screens during the day (no phone, no computer, no TV). It's calm. It's quiet. And he can calmly learn in his room without much intervention. I just quietly observe. When he shows me something he's accomplished, I describe the accomplishment: You sorted the blocks! And he is satisfied with himself. It's a really calm, lovely way of learning.
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