Thursday, April 10, 2014

Our story...

I found this post in my drafts section and decided to clean it up and post it...this is our story about why and how we began our homeschooling Montessori Journey.

Back in August 2013 I just started posting photos here in this space. This blog was, and still is, for my mom and dad so that they can keep up with what we are doing homeschooling-wise 6 states away. And then other people found the blog. And they started to ask me to turn on comments. :) And then I started writing and elaborating a bit more about all that we are doing, again for my parent,s and then for others who want to know more about our Montessori school at home journey.

For those just finding the blog, I haven't yet gotten to the reason that we started down this path and how all this Montessori Madness came to be. So here is our back story:

My husband and I decided to pull our two oldest from Montessori private school just a little more than one year ago. S would have gone from part-day to full-day and T would have gone from primary to lower el and the tuition jump and 4% increase, on top of no salary-raise-since-we-took-a-pay-cut-for-this-job, was just too much. 

It was January 2013 and I started to go into panic mode right after we made the decision to homeschool. HOW was I going to educate my children? And, would I be able to pull off a real Montessori-inspired experience? 

Over the past 15 months I've been in high gear continually preparing myself and the environment for our journey.

I found Montessori education three years ago when researching and choosing kindergarten options for T. Since his first year at private school, I've spent a bunch of time a ton of time in the Primary classroom, attended parent education talks about Montessori education, and I've read a lot about Maria Montessori and her educational theory and sequence. But on that day, in January 2013, when we made the decision to homeschool, I felt in no way shape or form ready to be the sole adult responsible for the education of our three children, especially using complex Montessori methods.
So fast forward through the spring and summer of 2013...while the kids were still in school and D was a little one-year-old at home with me, I completed NAMC's Lower El certification in 8 weeks, took CGMS's 8 week Introduction course,  researched, read blogs, websites, books, message boards and magazines, ordered materials, planned spaces, built shelving, made materials, talked to other classroom guides, talked with other homeschoolers, organized our classroom, organized our storage room, and generally went a little crazy.

I decided to start class time in August when T was 7, S was 5 1/2, and D was 2 and a little bit. So I ordered materials for pre-primary practical life and sensorial work; early primary reading materials and early math operation work; and lower elementary phonogram review, grammar lessons and science materials.

After numerous hours on the phone with my dad, I designed and built shelves with my husband at two different heights for toddlers and for elementary. I somehow managed to get all the cardboard packing materials from our orders to the recycle dumpster. I worked on training little D so that he would be ready to enter our classroom come the fall. (Another post perhaps?) And I was very thankful for the laminator I had bought so many years ago and never managed to give-away. 


I think about June I felt pretty burned out. I stopped work on the classroom and did some other things outside. I pulled all the creepers out of our azaleas. I fertilized, finally cemented the capstones on our retaining wall, pruned, and planted shrubs. (All before the mosquitoes got bad.) And then it was back to work to get everything done before August.

Preparing to ramp up from 0-100 mph for three different age-levels in 8 months wasn't easy. I felt like I was dragging along something really heavy, with no road map, all the while going around in my head many late nights wondering WHY I had decided to do this. Then I remembered that it was because my husband and I decided we wanted to give our children the best learning experience that we could afford. We really wanted our children to receive an education that strongly values peace, community, and personal responsibility. 
Planning and preparation of both the environment and my own self has never stop and probably will never cease. I am still endeavoring to learn as much as I possibly can every day. I am striving to keep the momentum, flow with things, let go, and follow the child. 

We plan to homeschool for as long as it makes sense. We just don't believe that the public school system is for us and our family. I grew up with a very alternative elementary school experience and I feel it gave me great perspective. I am so thankful for the teachers and friends who supported my exploration of nature, art, music, mathematics, poetry, and so much more. So I am dedicated to giving my children a taste of what is out there in the world. If it means homeschooling through to college, then that is what I will do.

So all in all, I would recommend a little bit more lead-time if you are planning to begin Montessori homeschooling three children in different planes of development. I would also recommend just going for it. You will never know if it will work for you unless you try. It is certainly challenging. And it isn't for the faint of heart. But it is really can be for everyone. 

8 comments:

  1. OH my - be still me heart!!!! I can't begin to tell you how much this touches my heart - I feel like we are on the same level in so many ways. Although in different circumstances, I was right there at the same point you are - needing something that WORKS, that reaches to the best level possible to encourage a love of learning. I understand the mad rush - in my case, all dependent on other blogs and other people's experience with Montessori to learn what I need to (and am still learning!), and reassurance that it doesn't matter where other kids are, but where we are RIGHT now in school, and in life, that matters! I love this post and I am so glad that you turned on comments, and that I found your blog - it's one of my favorites!

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    1. I had no idea! Really! You seem so "together" on your blog. (And yes, I know that blogs only share one side of things usually. ;) Thanks for your compliments it meas a lot to me. And it is certainly nice to know that there are others walking along a similar path.

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  2. And, by the way - have I ever told you how incredibly cute your kiddos are? :)

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  3. "Montessori Madness" - you said it ;)

    And I wouldn't trade a second of the madness away for even a modicum of sanity. Not worth it ;)

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  4. Thanks for sharing. So glad I found your blog too. Its been so so helpful as I have 3 about the same age as yours. Also learn a lot from your questions on Kotu. You are inspiring in your attention to detail. Your children are very blessed to have parents willing to sacrifice their freedom and sanity :) to give their kids their best.

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    1. Thanks for coming by to leave a note. I am glad that some of what you found here has been helpful!

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  5. LOVE the first picture with the tongues :)

    That's a tough way to start! I was lucky, it snuck up on our family gradually.

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    1. Yes, that picture with the tongues was from at least a year ago. Like T's faux-hawk?

      It was a tight schedule to ramp up, but that seems to be our life. God puts it before you and you are like, "okay, how do I get THIS done?" And you do. I DO love how your family got into it gradually. I think that approach was helpful for everyone involved.

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