"Overall, what makes this method of learning so different compared to the conventional form of education we have today, is that the teacher does not stand in front of the class and teach each child the same lesson all at once. Each child is allowed to learn at his own rhythm in a way where he feels as though he is in fact not learning or being taught.Montessori called this way of teaching 'preparing the child for success'. The teacher is there to guide the child through small Exercises in which the child will succeed. Through time, the Exercises rise in difficulty but because the progression is so well thought out, the child never feels as though learning is a struggle."
-Montessori Primary Guide
During one of my first semesters of college, I had the brilliant idea of taking an early childhood education class, thinking I'd love to be a teacher...and the thing is, I do love teaching. I have taught music lessons to people of all ages, taught college level psychology and recreation therapy classes (through teacher's assistantships; I'm not a qualified professor! haha), coordinated challenge courses, designed and taught classes for staff of and individuals with disabilities, substitute taught in the public schools...yeah, I love to teach! The thing is, though, I didn't like the education class I took, and thus majored in Psychology and Therapeutic Recreation (and Paramedicine) instead. While I found the early childhood education class to be way too simplistic and I couldn't justify spending money on a series of classes that didn't challenge me, I did take away an amazing experience from that class (aside fom the free pastries and hot cocoa since the location of the class was at a NYS fire academy): I had my first Montessori experience.
As part of our class, we had to each spend a day at an early childhood center. Everyone else chose places like Head Start or local private daycares. The teacher had recommended Montessori, though, and after reading about that educational model, I knew I couldn't visit anywhere else. I spent the day in the 3-6 classroom and was amazed. It was magical! Everything was to-size for the children. They were engaged. The place was clean. The children were helping and teaching each other. These children were set up for success, not failure, and were being taught real life skills instead of just textbook facts.
I met with the school administrator during outdoor play time, and then he took me on a tour of the rest of the school. I got to see the Jr. High aged room, where kids had found their own spaces to work on math books--some were at tables, others were sprawled on the floor, and another was tucked into a hideaway that was built into a loft in the classroom. I was told that the P.E. teacher coordinated with the head teachers of this room so that when the kids were learning about Ancient Rome, they were doing Olympic style games in "gym class." Not only was the learning environment engaging and memorable, but it was effective too, as I learned that the scoring of kids in a Montessori program was higher than that of traditional programs.
It's years later now, and I have a daughter of my own who will be 4-years-old at the end of October. Oh, how I want her to have this magical education! How I want to see her grow and learn, being excited as she masters new concepts! And then...reality hits. How on EARTH can I send her to a Montessori school on a paramedic's salary? How could I even transport her to and from school when I could be gone for two days at a time working? I begrudgingly began to consider alternatives for her for this Fall. Public education, applying for assistance for a private education. Waiting until next year and having my mother home school her with the curriculum she used for me in Kindergarten (which I still clearly remember loving)...but none of these options sit right in my spirit. Being a working mother, or a parent with financial restraints can limit all of us. I have decided though, that my daughter's education isn't one more thing that being a working mom is going to take away from my mothering. Since sending her to a Montessori school isn't an option due to travel and financial concerns, and I just can't accept sending her to a public institution right now (NO judgement on anyone who does that! I am just a little terrified of the germs and what values/behaviors she'll be exposed to! There are LOTS of great places and great teachers, and no one is a "bad" parent for giving their child an education!!!!!!)...and I don't want to wait until next year to get her started in a homeschool Kindergarten program...
the only option, then...
is to do Montessori home schooling.
And thus, my journey begins as I attempt to learn how to do this, aquire the materials necessarry, figure out an educational space while we're all living at my mom's because we are trying to sell our own home, and how I'm going to set it up so that my daughter can still be doing her school even when I'm working.
Oh yes, I'm excited for this challenge. :)
Posts begin TOMORROW!