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.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Homeschool Montessori

Many people in the Montessori-trained world "thumb noses" at homeschoolers. "You canNOT do Montessori in a homeschool."

I beg to differ. And I have the "nose-up" AMI training ;)

Why can you not do Montessori at home?
  • Classroom dynamics. This is a BIG one. Children interacting, sharing interests, encouraging one another - lots of positive peer pressure (and learning to handle the minimal negative peer pressure - a true Montessori school just won't have as many issues in this regard). 
  • Environment focused on learning and exploration. 
  • Scheduled time. 
  • I am struggling to think of more reasons. (please add in comments!)

But children in Montessori schools SHOULD be doing Montessori at home too - because Montessori is not an educational method. It is a way of observing and responding to a child's needs at the varying ages (planes of development). Parents of children in Montessori schools receive guidance on setting up the environment at home in a Montessori-friendly manner, encouraging independence  interdependence, simplicity, exploration, living lots of experiences. 

These families will not have the educational apparatus, but their environments will be imbued with Montessori results of observations. 

So what is a Montessori homeschool, but a blending of the classroom with the home environment???? 
I couldn't resist sharing the day the Montessori shelves
became home to all the critters who live in our home ;) 
So sweet! 

In our small apartment (about 850 square feet), we had most of the elementary materials, along with running two businesses... Yes, at this time a good deal of our materials are at the local church school building where I rent space to run a Montessori homeschool co-op, but it is possible to do in a small space with 1-2 children. Don't get me wrong - the more space you have, the better! ;)

How do you do Montessori at home and keep some semblance of the classroom benefits?
  • Classroom dynamics: to encourage additional interests and not having the adult hover constantly (so that the adult does the work and the guiding, the child does NO leading or limited personal work), the adult should do his or her own work when the children are working. Use that work plan to keep each other accountable; schedule some items; then be busy, or in the corner observing. 
  • Classroom dynamics 2: Consider very-very select additional resources that help you "keep the story going", keep the conversation going between presentations. In math, consider "living math" selections; in geography and biology, consider a science resource that focuses on conversations (not for the children, but for you the adult), 
  • Classroom dynamics 3: Build in group interactions that have a Montessori flair: cub/boy scouting, tae-kwon-do, and the like - as much multi-age and user-led as possible. 
  • Environment focused on learning and exploration. This is precisely why most of us homeschoolers chose this path! The only real concern is making your home so "academic Montessori" centered that the free time and real experiences are minimized - so keep that balance - real Montessori is about getting the children working in real life (Goings Out, work plans, freedom and responsibility). 
  • Scheduled time. There WILL be rules in your home that are different from school; the younger the children the more you will want to have a specifically school time and a specifically home time, with a LOT of gray-area time. Older children will reveal their needs at various times for this type of scheduling.
  • Schedule Time 2: Be sure that you are not "doing school" all day; however your schedule is going to be different. There may be more free time during the typical school hours but the child is working on a project in the evening with dad or older sibling instead. As long as the work plan is a reasonable amount of work and is mostly being accomplished, then all is well. 
  • And there are numerous benefits to homeschooling of any kind, pure and simple. The most critical being the family dynamic. 

I frequently wonder (but will NEVER put words into her mouth!) if Dr. Maria Montessori would have encouraged homeschooling if she could have seen where education has gone (or not gone as the case may be). She lived in a time that institutional education was the direction of the model. If she had more time and had seen the movement back towards homeschooling... what would she have said? I will NOT put words in her mouth. I just wonder. After all, the life of the Montessori elementary classroom looks so much like a family environment. Hmmm.... 

These are the thoughts of a woman alone in a car for 2 8-hour drives and then sick for countless hours over the course of three weeks. Please share more ideas and questions! 


  1. I find we tend to do more of the Montessori Curriculum in Maths, Geometry and Grammar. Mechanics, Reading, Spelling etc come more naturally and incidentally in our homeschool environment than they did when I was teaching in a classroom. We have used the Great Lessons as a spring board but have not used too many of the key lessons that follow in each area - perhaps this will come in future years - my son is only 6. We tend to have a happy blend of following a wide range of interests for our cultural or cosmic work after exposure to the lessons. We read an awful lot. We have a small group of children who get together once a week to do big learning, presentations and get a taste for that positive peer pressure you spoke about.

    1. It sounds like you have a great homeschool going :) While we definitely do use the albums a lot, we might go a few months between times of really getting into the albums in depth. I just realized that we've not done an "album page" presentation in over 3 months now! But there are areas we need to get back into it now that other projects are winding down.

      When we live our education, it will just naturally look a lot like Montessori - because the heart of Montessori is observation of real life and the needs of real life :)