7 Things You Didn't Know About Montessori Homeschooling
Homeschooling in general is so misunderstood, and when I am out and about with my children in public during the school day, we are often bombarded with curious (and sometimes guarded) questions from strangers.
Add in the word “Montessori” and people tend to be exceptionally confused about this lifestyle choice.
Here are some things about Montessori homeschooling that I want the world to know. Not just becuase I won’t have to keep answering the questions but because if you’re here on my website, it’s because you’re considering - or at least curious about - this method of education as it works in real life, as revealed by a real homeschooling mom.
1. We don’t really lesson plan
Is that shocking? I know it’s a shift from a more traditional view of “school”. Maria Montessori herself proposed something strikingly similar to unschooling. Instead of scripting detailed lesson plans ahead of time and following a curriculum, she suggested that we follow the child instead.
So here’s what we do instead. We have a general scope and sequence of concepts and skills in mind or on paper that are appealing to young children. We have a method for how to convey those concepts and help children refine those skills.
Instead of making decisions about what to teach when, we turn our attention to the child. We make note of learning opportunities, and then we seize them.
This doesn’t mean we don’t make any plans. We definitely do - mostly to document our homeschooling journey and get that learning inspiration down on paper.
Want to learn how I do it? You can download your planner here:
2. We spend a ton of time outdoors
It’s true. All of the homeschoolers I know center their weekly rhythm around time spent in nature and/or at playgrounds hanging out together. Instead of a 20 minute or even an hour-long recess, we spend a half-day.
It’s amazing what children can learn from one another just by socializing in an unstructured play setting for several hours. Nature-based learning goes hand-in-hand with any Montessori materials used at home.
Extended playtime outdoors also allows the parent ample time for strengthening the adult relationships that happen during a typical homeschool park day.
3. The School Year Is Year-Round
In Montessori, we see learning as something that happens naturally in a child’s life. It doesn’t start and stop…not ever!
So if children are learning all the time and we are educating our children at home, that means that “school” time happens while eating breakfast, while reading stories, while playinng outside, while snacking, while building forts, while laying about in the grass looking up at the sky…you get it, right?
School is just life. We don’t have to break it into “on” hours and “off” hours. This means that weekends and winter break and summers are just part of the same old regular life-long learning process.
4. the classroom is a different beast
It’s not even apples to oranges. More like oranges to broccoli. Homeschooling and classroom teaching could not be more different, and every other former school-teaching homeschooler I’ve ever met agrees with me.
When educating our own children, our roles as parents come first, and thus the way our children behave and the way we present information to them is different from the way we would guide a group of children who ultimately go home to their own parents.
5. DIY Montessori Materials are the real deal
When Maria Montessori taught in her Casa dei Bambini in Rome, Italy in 1907, she didn’t go peruse a fancy catalog and purchase all of the materials that are used in Montessori classrooms today.
She Did (most of) It Herself with what she had on hand. She painted block towers a variety of colors before settling on pink. She used silk thread and wool-spinning spindles to create work that appealed to the children. Her materials were handmade and beautifully imperfect.
When you take the time and energy and love to create your own materials for your children, you value them for all of their innovative teaching qualities, no matter how imperfect they may be.
6. our children don’t always do “shelf work”
Do you admire the #montessorishelfies online? Fab. Keep giving those posts hearts on Insta because taking the time to cultivate a shelf is a purposeful endeavor.
It might surprise you to hear how many children actually ignore the work on those shelves in favor of other real-life experiences like helping to prepare meals and going outside to garden. Imaginative pretend-play is also a very common and healthy part of any Montessori child’s life at home, and homeschooling often allows for the perfect balance of the two.
7. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money
The actual Montessori method is so inherently flexible and adaptable that it is within reach of any income level.
When I was a homeschooler with very young children, I bought very, very few materials. I did have some DIY stuff from my kindergarten teaching days, and I did go shopping for basic supplies, like trays and baskets, at thrift stores.
Once a year in August during “back to school” season, I bought a big stash of art supplies during the 50% off sales that happen when children are officially in school. Otherwise, we truly did not invest in thousands of dollars of materials like you might see in a Montessori classroom. My home did not look like a classroom at all. And we were fine!
I promise you—with a little self-initiative, it can be done on a shoestring budget.