HOTM Blog Hop- Montessori preschool- how do I start?

Welcome!  I’m glad you’re here!

In yesterday’s post, I outlined the philosophy of education as developed by Maria Montessori.  Her observations and understanding of children led to a revolutionary and systematic method that focused on the child as a unique individual with a natural and insatiable curiosity about his world.
Sounds great, you say, but how do I homeschool Montessori?
My older two children both completed a Montessori preschool and Kindergarten program before I kept them home.  I loved the school, the owner, and the way they truly followed the Montessori philosophy (not all “Montessori” schools do).  But when I had been homeschooling for a couple of years already and it was time for my third child to “go to preschool”, even though I loved the Montessori program we had used in the past I decided to keep him home and organize our day to include preschool time.
We already had a school room in our basement, so we taylored it to fit our preschool needs.  Our fourth child was almost ready to begin work with us as well, and I was excited to devote myself to this important early learning time with both of them.  We invested in some true Montessori materials with the help of some dedicated grandparents, but the materials themselves are not what make the method work.

It is the totality of the prepared environment to be explored and acted upon by the children that is primary…it is possible to have an environment that meets the essentials of Montessori education when no manufactured Montessori materials are available.” ~Paula Polk Lillard, Montessori Today

I had to adjust my mindset and view our space from the perspective of my preschoolers.  I had to ask,
Could they succeed in the space I set up for them?  

Could they reach the shelves?  Was everything, or most things, child-sized and child-friendly?  Was the space uncluttered and free of distractions?

In a home environment this might not be easy, especially if you don’t have a room to devote to this purpose.  But think outside the box:

  • Can you allot the bottom two shelves of a bookshelf and put a small table or desk near it for a Montessori corner?
  • Can you set up learning areas in different parts of the house- the kitchen, the den, the dining room?
  • Can you set up a book corner with a cozy bean bag in a corner of your child’s room to encourage book exploration?
  • We have some of these wire cubes and have found them to be sturdy enough for storing or displaying activities in a small space.
  • Is there counter space in your kitchen to spare where you can store child-sized utensils and cooking supplies?

Once you feel successful in mapping out a place or two for uncluttered learning, you can begin to brainstorm and research activities to meet your child’s developmental and interest needs.

Montessori activities for preschoolers (ages 2.5 to 6), called “works”, are grouped into five basic categories: Practical Life, Sensorial, Mathematics, Language, and Cultural (including science, geography, art and music).  All activities are designed to meet the young child’s need to move and manipulate objects, and as the child works with the materials she is learning how things work in her world.  This concrete, hands-on experience will become the foundation for abstract understanding later in childhood.
Our morning also includes a circle time when we have a routine of calendar topics, games (including some Montessori games such as our version of the Silence Game, and the Mystery Bag, which I fill with little trinkets that the children have to identify by touch only), songs, scripture memorization, etc.  This kind of structure in our Montessori time allows me to intentionally demonstrate works for the younger two, and to cover a specific topic that we may all be studying in science, art, music, or history.
In the next few posts, I will be describing each of the categories of works and giving lots of examples and links to help you get started developing some activities for your child.  I found that once I had a number of ideas and suggestions from books and websites, I was able to begin to formulate my own works and be creative with the materials I had.  Most importantly, once I had spent some time observing my preschoolers, I could more easily gauge what their needs and interests would be each step of the way.
If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me or leave them in the comments and I’ll be glad to  answer them as best I can.  Hope to see you tomorrow as we talk about Practical Life activities!
And on Friday I’ll be giving away a ticket to the HOTM Online Conference.  There are many wonderful speakers and you can hear them while sitting on your couch in your jammies!

And be sure to visit these other lovely ladies as they also share from their hearts and homes:
10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk and Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning