Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Why is Elementary Montessori Less Popular?

Short answer: it's less "available" on the blogosphere; elementary Montessori homeschooling has been even more eschewed by Montessori trainers than primary; and the options available are overwhelming at best.

Something else that has been difficult to pinpoint: you canNOT DO Montessori in any subject without the theory behind it. 

You CAN DO Montessori without any subject albums, if you have all the theory. 

That is enough to ponder right there. Montessori is not a SUBJECT; it is not entirely a philosophy or even a methodology;
it is Education as an aid to LIFE.
Therefore, the theory is CRITICAL.

The following is MY personal experience. Your experience is just as valid, even if you have an entirely outcome than I do  :)

For families who did primary and consider doing elementary, but choose against it:
  • theory albums are not readily available for either age; nor are they encouraged as much as they should be
  • primary was overwhelming enough - all those materials, and all those differences available online (which one should be chosen for any given family? too many questions!)
  • again on the materials (few parents realize elementary has FEWER materials; and the CHILDREN can help create them! Indeed many materials the children SHOULD be making, especially if they are homeschooled - there are far too many elementary materials available for sale that are not necessary to be "sold" -- and many materials available for sale are more follow-ups, for interested children, and are not going to be for "every" child). 
  • there are few/no "state expectations" for preschool/kindergarten, so parents feel freer
  • parents always intended to send their children to a school environment in elementary, so elementary Montessori at home has never been on the radar
  • there are SO many options for (non-Montessori) elementary that all are quite enticing
  • there is a SEVERE imbalance on the amount of Montessori information - not just primary versus elementary; but AMS, AMI, etc. And with AMS being more open, AMI being so closed-mouthed, and bloggers/families making their own adaptations, it becomes difficult to see through the modifications (which are necessary!) to see what is actually the key presentation and what is follow-up, what is a particular child's interests, what is a particular region's educational requirements, what is a particular family's requirements. 
  • the elementary albums that are available are overwhelming all by themselves. Seriously, if *I* as a Montessori and CGS trained adult tried to use any other elementary albums with my own son, we would be doing nothing but my own requirements for him; his own interests would be seriously stifled and our enjoyment level would plummet. There is no way those other albums can be used when a family has children of other ages too, without a lot of things being lost (and sanity almost being the least important of the lost things) - time, quality, ability to take care of other household responsibilities, etc.
  • hence many people I've spoken to that started elementary OR just looked at the albums - and stopped - tell me it was too much. It was impossible for them to achieve. I can't disagree. 
  • AMI has been so close-mouthed about things, that Montessori has an unbalanced appearance out "in the world" - I am not opposed to other ways of doing the same way, I am just opposed to the lack of balance. 
  • interesting tidbit: elementary Montessori covers 6 years - and should not be arbitrarily divided into 6-9 and 9-12, because then we are trying "finish" something before going into upper elementary that is actually a continuation and a deepening of 6-9 - not a BREAK - but a CONNECTION. Any given presentation is not upper or lower elementary. There may be logical times, but if a child gets it early or late - SO WHAT!? FOLLOW THE CHILD
  • The albums I tried to use previously; the samples I can access now; the pages that people share with me asking my thoughts/feedback - they are all overwhelming, detailed to the point of "hole-in-the-head" syndrome for both the kids and the adults.
  • I've seen others that are just too plain. Not enough to even spark a kindling of interest. And/or they don't provide all the necessary subjects. 
  • Few know how truly FREEING Montessori at elementary can and SHOULD be. 

So call me Goldilocks ;) I've got to have it just right, or I am NOT doing it in my home with my son or with any of the children I teach.

My motivating factor for offering my albums to the public:
  • yes, families of all shapes and sizes CAN do elementary Montessori. 
  • the curriculum is not intended to be overwhelming, but FREEING (AMI albums provide this - I have not yet seen ONE elementary album that provided this freedom, without a serious dumbing down of the material or cutting out critical presentations, while leaving a lot of the "extras" from other albums). If you have one that is perfect in this regard, I am very happy to peruse it and will happily point it out as a suitable option. 
  • my own experience has been that we use those other albums for particular follow-ups, but if I didn't have them, we would find other sources for the same information. 
  • the children should be working to both outside expectations AND their own interests, developing research skills, analytical skills, relationship skills, and more, along the way. Not following any one curriculum to a T and leaving it there
  • AMI albums (this is my favorite part of them!) allows us to provide the KEYS; then utilize ANY other resource that fits with our learning at any given time - that includes methodologies like Charlotte Mason and living books and nature walks, particular textbooks, time to do endless science experiments/demonstrations, add in Living Math books and games, whatever we NEED at the time. 
  • When I tried to use other albums, I hit a brick wall. I hit it hard and fast, just like some other families. I almost burned out. 
  • I want to share the JOY and the FREEDOM of elementary Montessori. 

Here is a key my child. What door would you like to open? Oh, you would like to save that one for another time? Ok. Ah! That is the key you would like to use! This key opens these doors - which one shall we start with? 

And we are off on our journey. 

Here is a key my child (a new presentation for which they are academically ready - straight from a keys-based album).

What door would you like to open? (follow-up work - can use any resource, including other albums, books, videos, Goings Out, visitors, etc)

Oh, you would like to save that one for another time? Ok. (they've done some follow-up or not; fulfilled any requirements; the interest just isn't there, or they have an idea for something but would like to finish up some other project first).

Ah! That is the key you would like to use! (they have an expressed interest)

This key opens these doors - which one shall we start with? (you provide the guidance as needed, but are ever-developing the child's own planning skills; you provide requirements as needed for family/state requirements, but the child does most of the planning and the material creation). 

And we are off on our journey. (Freedom, responsibility, cosmic education, living life together, joy)

Is this why you are interested in Montessori? For the freedom? For the JOY? 

It IS possible!

Pick up a proper theory album for the elementary age - the FULL elementary age. You don't need materials to make it happen! I promise!


  1. Can you link to a good theory album you are talking about?

    Thank you

  2. The only full theory albums I know of online at this time are listed at Keys of the World:

    I also have them listed on Etsy, Garden of Francis ( and at