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.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Montessori & Foundations of Scientific Understanding

Back in October, I wrote about one of the resources we use to complement our AMI albums:
Foundations of Scientific Understanding

(click here for) The Original Post where I also have a downloadable Excel document corresonding AMI albums with all three volumes of Foundations of Scientific Understanding. 

Recently, I have received several individual requests for my opinion regarding the suggested use of this resource. What follows is only my general opinion and should be taken with (iodized, sea-) salt ;)

Dr. Nebel, when creating his resources seems to have been focused on a school-based audience. That these guides could be used within a school setting with or without a range of ages, thus making them very adaptable and meeting the needs of individual learners; hence still very useful for homeschoolers. He also focuses on what can be observed - repeated - studied - examined - in the here and now. Sounds great! And it is.

There are psychological differences between the regular school system, homeschooling and Montessori. And that is where any suggested "age ranges" get a bit fuzzy.

So. If you are homeschooling in general, or particularly homeschooling Montessori, or schooling Montessori:
  • A good deal of Volume 1 (grades K-2) could be covered in the primary years, with some of it overlapping into typical 1st grade (1st year of lower elementary in Montessori). 
  • Volume 2 (grades 3-5) is really then much more aligned, Montessori-wise, with lower elementary into some of upper elementary. 
  • Volume 3 (grades 6-8) seems most appropriate for upper elementary and reaching into the lower adolescent years (particularly for review, conversation and to find areas to be built upon). 

But what about astronomy??? 
Anyone with that file above or with a table of contents in front of them, will see that such topics as astronomy are not really covered until Volume 3. I entirely agree with Dr. Nebel on this. The fact is, astronomy as we know it today is a very abstract concept. At the younger ages (primary and lower elementary), it is much best to focus on what a child can see from ground-level (Earth-ground that is!), with or without a very strong telescope. Stick to ONLY that for primary age children (before age 6). 

Lower elementary is also a time, if you have a highly interested student, to bring out really good NASA videos of space - ones that start with the earth and expand outward; then come back in. Go to a planetarium that does something similar - go ahead and do those things - IF your children are interested. If interest is lagging, then focus on ancient history (they'll get to astronomy that way! I promise!!!), and pick up more intense studies in upper elementary and then into middle school with the more technical details. 

Just make sure your children are "getting it" before you go too intense. ;) What happens more times than not, is that the adult suddenly "gets it" and wants to study it, so the children are dragged along. But if your children are interested and just eating it up - go for it! Have fun! Just plan to do it all again in another couple of years, because this is DEEP stuff! But if they're not quite getting it, hold off for a bit - it's ok! Focus on what they can see with their bare eyes - looking up at the sky during the day and at night; provide all the AMI geography presentations; delve into those history lessons; and I promise! The astronomy will come! 

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