If you’ve had experience with a Montessori classroom previously, you may be wondering how you can recreate that experience and setup a Montessori classroom at home.
I have great news! It’s easier than you think!
There are two very simple changes you can make to set up a Montessori style homeschool classroom!
But, before we get started, how did the Montessori method come about?
Who is Maria Montessori?
What is a Montessori education or the Montessori method?
The Montessori method is named after Maria Montessori. Maria was a doctor and an educator who advocated for the fact that children learn naturally.
The Montessori method focuses on the child as a whole–physical, social, emotional, and cognitive.
In a Montessori classroom, children are allowed the freedom to creatively lead their learning in a stimulating environment.
Teachers (or parents) guide children instead of “teach” them.
A Montessori Song
Now that you understand a little more about the Montessori method, I want to introduce you to a little song about Montessori.
Sing it in your head to the tune of the Brady Bunch Theme Song.
Here’s the story, about Montessori,
Back long ago when I was teaching public school,
There were two programs, in the same school,
Yet one of them really ruled.
Here’s the story, about Montessori,
When it’s put right next to traditional public school,
There are many kids, learning language,
And traditional language drools.
But when I started out I didn’t know that,
I thought traditional was painful therefore best,
Montessori was really fun and no one was stressed,
And the Montessori kids language skills really impressed,
I was so impressed. I was so impressed.
And I know they were best because I was the one who did the tests!
The fun’s just starting!
Now, here’s my story to go with the song.
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My Montessori Story
Once upon a time, I moved across the country and started a new job teaching in an inner-city school.
I was teaching ESL at the time, so I saw a lot of teachers in their classrooms, which means I saw a lot of different teaching styles and methods up close.
Before that job, I’d been teaching in my own classroom and was used to be observed – not observing others.
Seeing all those different teaching styles, daily, was eye-opening.
And I saw something there, a method that turned my head.
It intrigued me.
And it intrigued me in a good way, not a bad way, like so many other teaching methods I’d seen.
Some of my ESL students seemed to learn English so much faster than the other students I was teaching.
Why were these kids’ language skills so far ahead of the other kids?
What was the difference?
Enter: The Montessori Approach
The kids who learned English faster were all in the Montessori program.
It piqued my interest enough to research the Montessori style.
Once I started homeschooling, I transferred some of that knowledge over so I could do some Montessori style education at home.
Creating a Montessori Classroom for Homeschooling
Want to know if Montessori works with homeschool?
Yes! It does!
Sure, we don’t have a classroom full of kids to work together, but we do have multiple ages working together.
We don’t separate children by age the way most classrooms do, and this makes homeschool more similar to Montessori.
Even if you’ve got an only child, you’re the one who’s working with your child and showing her the way things can be done. You’re modeling a good example, and I bet you’re awesome at sorting numbers and tying shoelaces.
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Montessori homeschool is a big topic, so I’m going to tell you the two things you can do in your homeschool today that will help you get started with Montessori education.
1. Allow uninterrupted exploration of a topic.
Let your children interact with you or their siblings and explore a topic as long as they want to.
(If you’re wondering about Montessori vs. Charlotte Mason, Charlotte Mason style would stop them just before they seem to be done with the topic.)
2. Montessori is really into tactile sensation, so learn how to use Montessori toys in your homeschool.
These toys can be very expensive, so most people want to learn how to save money on Montessori materials.
The cheapest Montessori materials are items around your house:
• My children LOVED using jelly bracelets and plastic rings to sort and count (you might not have these in your house, but I have two little girls and we STILL have these around).
• Learn how to color pasta or beans and turn them into fun toys to sort, count, and make patterns with.
• A piece of cardboard, hole punch, and an old shoelace are an easy way to make a lacing toy.
Montessori toys are made for classrooms that have to endure years of use with many children, but in a homeschool there’s no need to get something that sturdy!
Plus, children have the added bonus of helping to make the toys themselves.
There fancier methods to learn how to make your own Montessori materials.
It’s awesome to make your own, but it’s also awesome to get a nice box from Amazon filled with ready-made, beautiful Montessori toys.
MONTESSORI TIP: Provide learning stations and projects that help children develop confidence and that also fosters creativity!
In the past few years I’ve been so excited to see these really inexpensive Montessori toys become available:
These Tall Stacker Pegs are a favorite of my children.
Here are other great Montessori toy examples (click the pictures to learn more about the toy):
Using Montessori methods can help children with Dysgraphia, or even children who are just slow to develop their writing skills, because they can learn concepts through manipulation of these toys.
Using these types of toys can also develop fine motor skills and hand strength needed to write.
Is the Montessori Method a Good Idea for Homeschooling?
Montessori was the beginning for me, a jumping-off point that got me into reading about how to do Waldorf preschool, how to do Charlotte Mason, and how to do literature-based education.
As I mentioned above, there are differences in the various styles.
You’ll find many opinions about which is best, but I think that whichever works best for me and my kids is what we’re going to use.
There are downsides to Montessori, just like there are downsides to Charlotte Mason and any other style, too.
When we homeschool we’re free to pick what is working for our own child, which means we don’t have to limit ourselves to what someone else picked out.