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My 5-year-old son just started kindergarten and my turns-5-in-the-fall daughter just started transitional kindergarten (a California-specific program for kids with fall birthdays). I am homeschooling my kids this year, which is something I have been preparing myself to do for the last couple of years.
In this post I am sharing how and why I have chosen a Montessori-inspired educational approach for our homeschool. One of the biggest influences by far was the online Montessori training course I recently completed through KHT Montessori.
How did we become a Montessori-inspired homeschooling family?
Both of my kids were adopted as toddlers. QBoy joined our family first, and just after his third birthday we adopted XGirl. At the time she was just a few months shy of her third birthday (my kids are virtual twins). So after her adoption, I was suddenly home full-time with two preschool-age kids who were both really struggling, although for different reasons. QBoy was having a LOT of difficulty adjusting to the addition of a new sibling, and it really showed in his behavior. XGirl, on the other hand, adjusted nicely to our family but was EXTREMELY behind in her development.
My strategy for surviving the first very challenging months with both kids was to keep them busy from morning to night with fun, playful, and developmentally appropriate activities. As I researched activity ideas to entertain and educate my kids, I was continually drawn to the Montessori method. I read all I could get my hands on, and I started trying out some Montessori-inspired activities with my kids.
The more I learned about Montessori, the more I wanted to know, and the more I felt like it was the right approach for my family. But the information I was finding online felt a bit haphazard and piecemeal. So I was thrilled when I discovered KHT Montessori’s online course for parents and teachers of children ages 2-6. I signed up for the course, excited to receive the 12 core albums with hundreds of activity ideas to do with my kids. I was hopeful that the investment I was making in the class – both in time and money – would pay off for myself and for my kids. And boy has it ever!
I completed the class this past July. My understanding of – and appreciation for! – the Montessori method is so much greater now. And having access to KHT Montessori’s 12 core albums has been such a resource for doing developmentally appropriate educational activities with my kids. In fact, many of the activities I share here at Gift of Curiosity come directly from or are inspired by activities in KHT Montessori’s teaching albums.
What I like about Montessori
Montessori education respects the child: Montessori does not impose outside mandates on what kids should be expected to do. Instead, it recognizes that all kids develop at their own pace, and it respects children enough to allow them to develop at their own pace without being labeled as “delayed” just because it takes them longer to do something.
Montessori education meets the needs of diverse learners: A Montessori approach “follows the child.” This means that the curriculum is individually tailored to the interests and developmental level of each child. A child who has mastered a concept can move on to the next level without needing to wait for his or her peers to catch up. A child who needs more time to master a skill is afforded that opportunity without being rushed onto the next developmental task. A Montessori education is also multi-sensory, so kids who prefer different learning modalities all have a chance to shine.
Montessori education teaches kids to be independent: Early Montessori education emphasizes practical life skills to teach kids to do things for themselves. A proper Montessori environment is also set up to make it easy for kids to be independent. For example, kids in many Montessori classrooms are responsible for preparing their own snack and cleaning their own tables.
Montessori education teaches kids to be respectful: A Montessori education is built on a foundation of teaching kids to be respectful of their environment, including the people around them. Montessori education emphasizes grace and courtesy skills to teach kids proper manners and respectful behavior.
Montessori education aligns well with my approach to parenting: As a parent, I strive to respect my children as full-fledged people with valid thoughts and feelings and problems. I try to build them up – in an authentic way – rather than tear them down. Further, my approach to discipline is heavy on teaching and very (very!) light on punishment. Montessori takes a similarly respectful approach with children. A good teacher ensures that children are given opportunities to be successful with their work and doesn’t push to the point of frustration. A good teacher understands that children sometimes have very big feelings that should be handled in a respectful manner. A good teacher respectfully re-directs negative behavior in a way that teaches the child what he or she should be doing rather than simply punishing the child for doing something wrong.
Montessori education is supported by research: Recent research in the fields of neuroscience, education, and parenting support so many of the educational principles first put forth by Maria Montessori in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Montessori’s focus on presenting the concrete before the abstract, staying attuned to children’s “sensitive periods” for learning certain types of information, the notion that children learn best when they experience warm and consistent care, and the importance of the environment for stimulating early learning are just a few Montessori beliefs that have been validated by research in research years.
About the KHT Montessori online certificate course
KHT Montessori’s online certificate course is led by Karen Tyler, an AMS certified Montessori teacher who guides her students through all 12 albums as well as several book studies. By the end of the course, students will have an excellent understanding of the Montessori method and will have tons of tools at their disposal for engaging children ages 2-6 in Montessori activities. The next KHT Montessori course begins on September 15, 2014.
I highly recommend this training for anyone who would like to learn more about the Montessori method and who would like access to the 12 teaching albums covering language, mathematics, sensorial, practical life, physical science, botany, zoology, ecology, history, geology, geography, and astronomy. This course is perfect for homeschoolers, Montessori teachers who want to refresh their training, and preschool teachers who would like to add more Montessori activities to their preschool classrooms. You can get more details about this course on the KHT Montessori website.