A member of the Montessori homeschooling email discussion group Playschool6 is writing a magazine article on Montessori homeschooling and has posted a list of questions for willing members to answer to help her with the article. Some of the questions were on topics I don't think I've written about previously here. In case they are of interest, here are my answers to those ...
The reason we started homeschooling and the reason we continue to homeschool are different so I'll answer them separately.
We pulled Tessa out of a "Montessori" preschool at age 4.5 years because we were not happy with the environment at that school. Children only had limited freedom to choose their own work; the classroom atmosphere was intimidating: "No crying at school" one teacher told a child; low level bullying (kids saying unkind things to each other) was the norm each day when all four preschool classes used the playground together and three of the four adult supervisors sat chatting in a corner of the playground.
Initially, we planned to re-enrol Tessa in the school when she turned 6: Josiah was enjoying his time in one of the 6-9 classrooms with a loving, gentle teacher, although he was often frustrated and hampered by the lack of freedom to choose his own work. But before Tessa turned 6, we had discovered the advantages of homeschooling and decided to continue homeschooling. We waited till Josiah expressed interest in trying homeschooling, which he did at age 7, then he left school too.
Our primary reason for continuing to homeschool is the freedom it gives our children to follow their own interests and timing and to work and learn in their own style. And because we all love it :)
Because I agree with Maria Montessori's views as expressed in her books, that children learn best in an environment of freedom with responsibility, treated with respect, with a responsive adult present who observes the child and modifies the environment to better meet the child's needs, removing obstacles and introducing activities that cater to the individual child's changing interests.
How did you discover it?
When Josiah was 2.5 years old, my local homebirth group organised a day seminar on "alternative education". As well as a speaker from a local Free School (Summerhill style) and someone else I can't remember, Beth Alcorn of Montessori World Education Institute spoke about Montessori and demonstrated materials. I was enthralled.
What do you like in this method?
The outstanding learning that is possible when children choose their own work rather than having it set by someone else.
The ease with which it is possible to provide an individualised education for every child, catering to each child's interests, timing and learning and working styles.
The Montessori materials, which, to my mind, are the work of genius, especially the maths and geometry materials. The Montessori maths and geometry curriculum is far superior to any other I have seen. Josiah and Tessa love working with the materials and discovering concepts through their own exploration.