Advice, Thoughts, and Ideas Needed- Montessori Homeschooling?

I really like the Montessori method. I have been reading and researching, as I tend to do, and I am absolutely sold on Dr. Montessori’s system. I love the product- a whole, compassionate, self-confident, deep-thinking individual. I love the process- hands-on, self-motivated, rich experiences. I am fascinated by the way the children can use the materials to self-correct and the intrinsic learning of higher concepts happening with even the most “simple” of the materials is mind-blowing. Come on, a tower of pink blocks?!?!?! Genius. I could spout sonnets about Montessori education, and I don’t even know that much about it yet.

So. I decided I want to use it for homeschooling. However, I am running into several difficulties and I want to know if ANYONE has any ideas about how to get around these issues.

  1. I am not trained as a Montessori instructor. And training takes time, people. Like, it would take about 2 years of courses for me to be able to teach Hula Girl at her current age bracket. Montessori education includes an infant/toddler age group, 0-3 years; a preschool age group, 3-6 years; a child age group, 6-9 years; and an older child age group, 9-12 years. Hula Girl would be five by the time I am ready to teach the preschool age group.
  2. Montessori education is mainly about the social and emotional development of a child. Classrooms, or communities, are divided by age as listed above. Hula Girl and Gelato are not in the same age bracket, and will rarely cross over. Also, we would need more children to really have a community. Two kids and a mom is not the same as 25ish children, a teacher, and an aide. 2+1 ≠ 25+1+1
  3. Because of the aforementioned issues, Jonathan and I talked about how we could possibly squeeze our budget in order to find the means to send our children to a Montessori school, even just a few days a week, while we maintain a Montessori style in our home: making the playroom natural, organized, and filled with high-quality materials;  landscaping the backyard in a natural way (more on this in a future post); creating child-friendly routines and spaces throughout the home to include small tables in the kitchen for food prep, stepladders in the bathrooms for easy sink access, lower shelves and rods in the closets for hanging up and putting away clothes, etc.
  4. But. #3 is probably not feasible because our town doesn’t have a Montessori school. At all. The closest one is about 45 minutes from our house. We don’t even have a Montessori homeschooling co-op (and let me tell ya, a LOT of people homeschool here. All our middle schools are rated 6 or worse on the “Great Schools Rating Scale” so you can probably guess why people homeschool).
  5. Although, I don’t really mind the drive… Driving to another town is possibly doable once Gelato drops to one nap- I might be able to drive up a few days a week for the kids to go to school while I… shop? Read a book? See friends? Visit Gramma? Take online classes? Volunteer?

I actually kind of like option five. But it’s kind of not affordable unless we’re making some extra dollaz somewhere. I am considering doing something that would bring in some cash each month. (NOT anything like Mary Kay, 31 Gifts, or anything like that. For those of you who know me, home parties are my worst nightmare. Forced fun is NOT fun. Forced fun plus the expectation of actually spending money you don’t have?! You’re killing me, Smalls. I only attend these when I really really really need a break from the house.)

A suggestion I have received is that I should just do a Montessori-esque style in our homeschooling, rather than focusing so much on the REAL Montessori stuff. But you guys. I can’t do it. I can’t know that there is better out there and NOT achieve it for my children. I am struggling with this so much because I feel, for the first time in my life, that my lack of education is holding me and my family back from the best we can have. If only I had trained for Montessori in college or when I just got out! If only my college hadn’t looked down on Montessori and made it abundantly clear that Montessori schools are just higher-cost daycares!!! I wish I had known sooner that real education happens in these schools.

The thing is, I don’t really want to send my kids away at all. I want to be the #1 influence in their lives, especially in their formative years. That’s my most important reason for choosing to homeschool in the first place! Now I feel like in order to give them the best education, I might need to step aside. And that kills me.

So what are your thoughts? Any experiences? Any ideas on how to make this work? Anyone know of some other option I’m unaware of (especially those of you who live near me)? ANY input is welcome.

6 Comments

  1. Kristy said,

    August 15, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Any chance you can form a Montessori-style co-op on your own, based in your home, for a few preschoolers you know? That doesn’t help with the education/training issue, but perhaps you could take or read a crash course.

    Many people recommend the book Montessori Play and Learn, which is not training, but more about what you can do in your home.

    I really respect an online friend, Deb Chitwood, whose blog is LivingMontessoriNow.com. She has homeschooled her two children who are now older teenagers or in their twenties and out of the home. Here is a post of hers about setting up a Montessori preschool classroom in the home: http://livingmontessorinow.com/2010/08/17/how-to-set-up-a-montessori-preschool-classroom-at-home/

    I don’t know if it’s a question of studying on your own or not, but could you find a way to carve out a couple hours a day to study Montessori? Or one hour? Or half an hour? You’re probably already doing this…I don’t know.

    Here are three ways I’ve made some (very small amounts of) extra money each month: 1. Signed up for Swagbucks, did a bunch of quick, non-scammy Swagbucks activities each day, like using their search tool to search the Internet which sometimes gives you random Swagbucks, and used my Swagbucks to get $5 Amazon gift cards. We buy a lot of things on Amazon, like pet supplies and books, so it’s always nice to have an extra $5 there. 2. Found an online homemaking magazine I really liked years ago, volunteered as a writer for it for a year or so, then applied when a paid position came up. I get about $50 per month from writing about five articles. 3. Drastically cut the grocery budget. May not work for you because I know you’re frugal and also you want to buy quality foods for your family, but what I’ve done lately is made a weekly menu, listed the ingredients it would take, estimated the cost of each ingredient, and added it up. I had a set amount of money I would spend that week in mind, like $70. Then I would subtract ingredients on the list until I got that total down to $70. That meant recipes had to be adapted or scrapped, with ingredients I already had on hand substituted or ingredients just left out. I supplemented with things I could make at home if that didn’t leave us enough food.

    There is always caring for another child or two in your home, but that works best if you are accustomed to that child already, feel comfortable with the idea, and know and like the family. And don’t watch the child for too many hours per week. 🙂

  2. Kristy said,

    August 15, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Oh, Deb Chitwood is in Colorado Springs, apparently. Don’t know if that matters. 🙂

    • August 15, 2013 at 10:43 pm

      Dude. You need to get me her info. Or give her mine. I have some questions for her. Hers is the website I’ve been using mostly to try to navigate my way around the beginning phases… but I am overwhelmed by all the links she posts in almost every post!!! It’s a LOT of information to try to take in all at once! But can you get us connected somehow!???

  3. Kristy said,

    August 15, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    I just thought of one of the most inspiring homeschooling bloggers I know – she does lots of pictures, but man are they gorgeous and inspiring! She does a mix of homeschooling methods: Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Waldorf, other stuff. Here’s a link to her Montessori label on her blog: http://adventuresofarainbowmamamama.blogspot.com/search/label/montessori

    • August 15, 2013 at 10:43 pm

      I saw this on your facebook before I saw it here. I clicked and was HOOKED. Thanks!

  4. Kristy said,

    August 16, 2013 at 5:54 am

    I’m going to contact her. Just saw this link of hers on Twitter and browsed the post. Have you seen it: http://livingmontessorinow.com/2012/11/06/overwhelmed-moms-guide-to-montessori-homeschooling/

    I am so glad you like Adventures of a Rainbow Mama. She seems to do homeschooling in the right spirit. So lovely.


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