Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Montessori Approach

I've received many questions lately about the  Montessori approach & how we implement it in our home.  When Dutch was younger he attended a private Montessori school because I really appreciated the philosophy and thought it would work well for our family.  Now that he is home and we are doing homeschool, I still follow that approach because it just works for us.  The general theory of Montessori is to emphasize "independence, freedom with limits, and respect for a child's natural psychological, physical, and social development".  Within the classroom a child does not move to the next room, or level, until the previous set of objectives has been mastered, not when they turn a certain age.  The student has some say in what they are interested in learning that day, so providing choice is a HUGE application of the philosophy which encourages the development of the child's autonomy. There is freedom of physical movement, educational discovery, and lots of "work" with natural materials.  At first it was hard for me to switch over to using the word "work" instead of "school" because it seemed foreign to me initially, but it truly does add a new level of importance to what we do for learning everyday.  We are designed to "work" and giving children a task that they can work on fosters self-confidence and self-efficacy.  Here are some of the techniques that I try my best to implement in our home and classroom:The Montessori Approach-2Hawley Homeschool

:: LESS IS MORE :: 
Children don't need a lot of toys.  As parents we tend to go way overboard with buying stuff.  If your children are like mine, they find their one favorite thing and spend the day (or week) with that item.  Children don't need a lot of things for entertainment.  The more things and stuff they have the more dependent they become on things for satisfaction which enables materialism.  I find that with too much stuff my kids are just over stimulated, so less is just better.

:: NATURAL FIBERS ::
I'm pretty stingy on what toys we have in our home. The toys have to be: safe, mostly educational, no noises or flashing lights, made from natural fibers, gender neutral (not so much a political statement so much as a financial one—don’t over read this lol), and enable exploration.  I know this is annoyingly crunchy to say (I’m rolling my eyes at myself as I write this, I promise), but in our home I try to have only natural fiber toys (mostly wood, and nothing with lights or songs).  I do this because I like to keep their toys as close to the earth as possible to leave enough room for the imagination.  It’s really important to note that when you’re looking for wooden toys that have been painted to make sure they were not painted with lead-based paint.  You would be SHOCKED how many wooden toys still have lead-based paint. Needless-to-say, make sure you check for toy safety. My favorite toys and educational tools come from Melissa & Doug and Green Toys.

:: NEVER ENOUGH BOOKS ::
Despite the fact that I now have books double-stacked & two rows deep on the bookshelves, I continue to buy books.  Of all the things to buy, books are always at the top of the list.  Right now I have over 80 books that I have saved in my Amazon cart so I can stalk them going on sale.  There is no such thing as too many books when you're trying hard to help your children develop a passion for reading and learning.  In this case, less is not more ;-)

:: ROTATING STATIONS ::
I like to have stations for learning and play set up all over the house.  I have stations set-up in almost every room (not my bedroom or the bathrooms.....also I don't really have a lot of rooms as I don't live in a mansion Ha!).  These stations have 2-4 items in baskets or some kind of container that the kids can pull off and work with.  The key for these stations is to make them kid level.  This promotes independence and autonomy for the kids to go over and select what they are interested in at that moment.  What I like about these stations being eye level, is that when it is time to "restore their environment" and clean up, they can put everything back into the basket and take it back to the shelf themselves.  About once every 2 weeks I rotate these stations.  I try to get the items to reflect a topic that we're studying (we work in 2 week units), but I also rotate items to keep them fresh.  Like I said before, kids don't need a lot of new things....sometimes if you just make something you already have new again they are excited and interested in it.  Here are some of the stations I set up in our home:
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The Montessori Approach-1
There are so many other things that are essential for this philosophy and I recommend these books if you're interested in more.
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Obligatory Blogger Disclaimer: I was not paid for this post; I just really like these products.

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