As many of you know, I am currently homeschooling my two kids (ages 6 & almost 3) using Montessori methods and materials. This fall was the first time I worked with them together. It’s definitely been a challenge!
Sometimes I feel like my whole job is to keep her (the younger of the two) away from him so he can work. She and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen (painting, scrubbing) so that he can work undisturbed at his rug in our front hallway.
I try to go with the flow, though, and sometimes when she leaves the easel or the sink and joins us during a lesson, it works out. The other day I was showing him a great work called “What do we get from rocks and minerals?” (see the end of this post for a description). She joined us, and while she didn’t exactly know what we were talking about, she enjoyed touching and feeling the rocks and other objects. It actually worked out really well, leading me to think that I should probably include her in more presentations.
Right now, my son is doing things like bead chains and squares, practicing addition facts for speed, telling time work, and Blue Series spelling and rhyming. He shows an inordinate fondness for science experiments, so I purchased some great science kits from various places, and Pinterest has also been a great source of ideas for science experiments. Those we definitely save for the afternoons when my daughter is sleeping.
My daughter loves cutting and using a hole punch (they have newer ones with soft handles that are easy to squeeze); she loves the hanger for the colored bead stairs (available from Montessori vendors who sell wooden materials), and she likes to get out the bead chains and lay them out on her rug.
That’s one of the interesting variables of mixed ages in homeschooling – my daughter is being exposed to many more materials earlier than she would normally be, like the bead chains. So far, it’s not too much of a problem. Since I try to “follow the child”, I let her take his work out and use it in a sensorial way as much as possible.
I have come to realize that I cannot and should not duplicate a Montessori classroom in my home. I don’t have the time, money, space, or the need for it. Instead, I can tailor the work we have out to fit each child’s needs and rotate work in and out when needed.
I have altered my approach to homeschooling slightly since we began; I’ve become more relaxed and am starting to follow their interests even more. I’ve seen that the best thing I can do for my son, after presenting a work, is just to leave him alone. I’m learning to trust both of them and seeing that they know what it is they need to do.
*To make “What do we get from rocks and minerals?”:
You’ll need samples of: graphite, fluorite, lava, copper, and gypsum. Then, add a pencil, a small tube of fluoride toothpaste, a bar of lava soap, pennies, and a piece of drywall (which is made from gypsum). The kids will love seeing the connections between the natural and manufactured items.
The pairs are:
You can add cards with the name of each rock/mineral and corresponding object if you like. I saw this work at a hands-on exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago and knew right away it would work really well in the classroom. This one was always off the shelf.