Well, while we do not have a multi aged classroom of 30-60 children with 4-8 trained Montessori teachers, we can modify Maria Montessori’s method of education for our home.
What we’re doing together is NOT “The Montessori Method”. Maria made it clear that each Children’s House was to have a complete set of equipment and set up in such a way that, if you moved about from school to school, you couldn’t find any substantial difference, with either the physical room or the teaching staff. If her Method was to be held up as a ‘scientifically provable’ method of education, then each room needed to be almost like a ‘science experiment’, repeatable and identical in every detail possible.
We are not able to replicate her model here. We can modify the main principles to suit our continuing journey with learning though. We do this because we LOVE Montessori… it just ‘fits’ well with how we behave and how we relate to each other, our family and friends, and to the learning process. So we have some guiding principles from the Maria’s writings to draw upon, which are:
- Follow the child.
- If a child demonstrates observable concentration when learning a new skill or mastering a skill, do not interrupt.
- Do not help the child with something they feel they can succeed in.
- Ignite interest but let that interest be free to develop.
- Freedom is the matching of Liberty to work, and the Will to work. Liberty comes from having a prepared environment where choices are available, Will comes from within the child’s desire to learn. The prepared environment includes a ’3 hour work cycle’, usually in the morning, where the children know they won’t be interrupted. Where learning is progressively introduced and also where they experience the highest amount of Will, or desire, to learn.
Every change we have made has been based on our discussions, where both M and D have had the Freedom to choose, always.
Although I’ve ‘ticked off outcomes’ in both the Board of Studies NSW curriculum and the Montessori curriculum, we haven’t always followed a routine or used the materials during a work cycle. During our meetings and discussions both M and D wanted very much for us to have routines, to use the Montessori materials more and to have definite ‘computer use time’, as all three of us have spent far too much time on computers over the past couple of years. Do you have that problem in your home?
Here are some more samples of the work we are currently doing.
So far we’ve enjoyed one whole month of gently, at first, moving back into a regular daily routine. Last week went exceptionally well. After they follow a morning ritual of getting their bodies ready (bathroom, breakfast… you know lol), they then start a three hour work cycle. Food is eaten when required, but we stop for lunch after those three hours. Two more hours is then devoted to projects and what Montessori called the ‘Great Work’, which basically means ‘learning something they’re obsessed about’. After 2pm it’s free time, and computers can go on (if they weren’t already used for research etc). At 5pm we stop for a 30 min cleaning roster where everyone chooses what room they start in and we all have jobs that we can do independently. Night time brings dinner, bath/book/bed and then I have time to write, and prepare for the next day, before retiring myself.
It’s still a work in progress, however, we’re definitely on a good path. No one is resisting the change, in fact they hold me to task and remind me to NOT be on Facebook before 2pm!
All the best!