Now that spring is firmly here, I thought it might be nice to give another homeschooling update. As most of you know, I am homeschooling my son (6 1/2) and daughter (3) using Montessori materials. This is in addition to my business, so I find myself staying up late most nights =)
Anyway, you may remember that I’ve mentioned in the past how difficult it’s been to work with both of them together, given the differences in their ages and abilities. This has been the biggest challenge – not finding the time to plan, not making the materials; that part is easy. The challenge is in the day-to-day work. Luckily my son can work independently quite a bit, but it’s still been tricky to keep them both focused.
For about 4 months (Nov. – Feb.), my daughter was very much in the Practical Life groove. She would choose scrubbing, pouring, stringing, puzzles, and play-doh over just about everything else. Which is fine – I know kids need PL, and it is setting a great foundation for hand/eye coordination, fine motor skills, and other stuff that’s necessary for reading and writing.
But in the past month, I’ve seen a real shift. She has completely eschewed PL for language, math, and cultural work. Today, for instance, she chose Living/Non-Living, then Fruits/Vegetables Sorting, then Fruit Nomenclature Cards, then Vegetable Nomenclature Cards, and topped it off with the Continent Map.
I called my son over when she got out the map and had him give her the names of the continents; I’d really like him to be the one to show her how to use work whenever possible. Up until now that hasn’t been in his purview, as she was mostly doing PL.
Her other recent favorites have included sandpaper letters and numbers, animal sorting (land/air/water animals), the bead stair with number tiles, and the life cycles of both the butterfly and the frog. I should note that these materials have always been out and available from the beginning of the year, but until recently she just didn’t seem interested in them.
I am seeing other positive changes in her as well: now, she is able to complete the work without getting cranky, and she is happy to help put her work away. Given the fact that she is a very strong-willed little girl, these developments have been most welcome. Often, the work cycle ended with tears as she refused to do work correctly or put it away.
Many times in these past few months, I would cling to Maria Montessori’s assertion that children normalize themselves with work, and sometimes when working with her was the last thing I wanted to do, I reminded myself that only through work could we move past these fussy stages.
This has been new to me, since my son was very happy and willing to do work from the beginning. He’s the kind of kid who’s never thrown a tantrum; not that he doesn’t have his own issues, but Montessori work has always seemed to come really naturally to him. He didn’t struggle with following directions the way she has.
So, to those of you who have found it to be a difficult year, whether at home or in a school: have faith! Have faith in yourselves and in the Montessori method. You will soon start reaping the results of all your hard work. I plan on continuing work time during the summer, with time off for vacations and field trips. I don’t want to lose the ground we’ve gained.