Suddenly Homeschooling!

Montessori Homeschool 

I’m not sure what I'm more afraid of running out of: toilet paper, wine, or ideas for occupying two kiddos at home ALL. DAY. EVERY. DAY for the foreseeable future.  For those of you with the same concerns, I can’t help with the first 2, but I can try with the 3rd by sharing our [attempted] Montessori homeschool adventure + my favorite FREE online resources.

If we've ever had a conversation about education, you know I’m obsessed with the Montessori philosophy. One of the things I love most is how self-directed the approach is.  By allowing kids to direct their own learning, they’re actually learning how to learn as well as to trust themselves to make decisions vs. simply following orders.  The approach secretly sneaks in these life lessons like adding broccoli to a smoothie. 

The other big benefit of self-directed learning is for YOU.  It makes homeschooling SO much easier!  I don't need to worry about coming up with and maintaining a schedule that has kids doing math at 8:30, reading at 9:30, writing at 10:00, science at 10:30, music at 11, etc.  Just typing that out was stressful!  How about: "Work Time" from 8:30-11:50 instead?  

In a Montessori classroom, “work” options are set out around the room and kids choose what they do and when.  For preschoolers, these activities are all about fine motor skills, learning the sounds of letters and then word building, physical counting combined with number recognition, practical life, and more.  New work is introduced as a lesson, and then it is available for the kids.  The kids go about their day picking a work off the shelf, bringing it to a mat, doing the work, cleaning it up, putting it back on the shelf and repeating the process.  A classroom of 25 toddlers has a quiet hum as they all work independently.  Montessori magic.

                   Montessori Activity         Montessori Activity         Montessori Activity

For elementary, the kids have their assignments (think: subjects) that they need to cover written on the board.  After circle time in the morning, they go to their desks and write their assignments into their journal, then they go to the various areas of the room dedicated to each subject and choose a work there.  Some assignments, like math, are every day, while others rotate.  So, they don’t get to choose whether or not they do math, but they do choose what math work they do and when they want to do it.  When they’re done with the assignments they “get” to do “on-going” work, which basically means they can do whatever they’d like including playing quiet games, doing art, and reading.

In both classrooms, each kid has a job that rotates once a week: Floor Monitor reminds kids to pick up if they’ve left something on the floor; Room Leader welcomes everyone in the morning and tells the date; Snack Monitor tell the snack + limit (max allowed) + price, then collects $ from the kids when they’re ready for snack (littles can just count coins, olders can count the actual value); Zoologist feeds the animals; there are more but these tend to be the favorites.

Here's our new weekly homeschool schedule for A (6.5 y.o.):

Daily (8:30-11:50, order + work selection per assignment decided by A)

Reading: Reads on her own, then writes 3-5 sentences about it in her journal

Cultural/Art: Discovery Education video + discussion (optional: related craft)

Idiom/Journal: Journal entry using the idiom of the day

Spanish: Basic lesson (will migrate online soon)

1-2 Rotating Works

Rotating Works

Counting syllables

Flash cards

Telling time



Lunch Doodles with Mo Williems (Free)

Playful Learning (Free 30 day trial)

National Geographic Classroom (Free)

Scholastic Learn at Home Lessons (Free)

Khan Academy (Free during Corona)

Discovery Education (Free during Corona)

 H (4 y.o.) doesn't have assignments, other than that he has to choose 4 of the available works, and once he's done, he can start on-going work.  Here's a list of his work options:

Trace and cut out shapes (see photo above on left)

Counting puzzle

Word building (see photo above in middle)

Name tracing

Alphabet puzzle

Reading puzzle

Marshmallows + Tooth pick shape building

Pouring work

Pattern work with shapes

Number work (see photo above on right)

I kind of panicked when the kids were done with everything other than Cultural by 9:45, but my (always calm and collected) daughter said, "Mom, that's how it's supposed to be.   Otherwise, what's the point of even having on-going, if your work is going to take you the full morning?"  And I immediately realized the brilliance of having on-going.  It's the carrot that keeps kids on task and moving.  We finished cultural around 11, and the kids were excited to play puzzles and board games for the next 50 minutes until it was time to close up the classroom for the day.

One of A's teachers (who I absolutely LOVE) told me she found it very difficult at times to be Montessori at home with her own kids.  We're all going to have good moments and rough ones.  Let yourself off the hook with the rough ones.  Be flexible, and do what will keep you sane and the kids alive.  We’ll get through this.



****For more info on Montessori, check out the Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori.  If you little is 3 or under Montessori from the Start is also a great read****

****Here’s the cultural lesson from today****

“Cultural” is kind of a catch-all in my daughter’s 1st grade classes.  They cover everything from geology to space to geography to history, and usually involve an art project.  Here was my lesson plan from today:

  • Lesson:
    • Constellations vs. asterisms: There are 88 constellations.  Asterisms are smaller patterns of stars that are visible “to the naked/unaided eye.” Asterisms are sometimes parts of constellations, or part of multiple constellations.
    • Ursa Major is a Constellation, and its name means “the great she-bear”
      • The Big Dipper is a well known asterism that is part of Ursa Major.
      • Stories about this constellation may date back to the Ice Age when ancient people could cross over the Bering Strait to North America, but it’s possible that the constellation actually got its name 50, 000 years ago when a Paleolithic bear cult existed.
      • Myths are stories that people create to help explain the world around us.
      • There are many myths about the friendship between bears and humans.
      • If stars are moving why do the constellations that ancient people studied still appear fairly similar today?  Watch the video!
    • Video:
    • Activity: We put a Big Dipper up in H’s room with glow in the dark stars
    • Craft: I gave the kids papers with stars randomly drawn around it and they had to trace out an asterism and make up a “myth” about it.

We had a lot of fun, but it was also a lot of work...teachers deserve to be paid millions of dollars.  Maybe daily.  Going forward I will mostly be using one of the online resources for Cultural lessons!  :)

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