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.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Planning in a Montessori Homeschool

Planning in a Montessori Homeschool sounds like a huge contradiction in terms, depending on how you define each of those terms ;)

Homeschool - school at home, but we're not always at home; and we spend less time on "school" than children at an out-of-home school.

Montessori - seems to be a free-for-all for some; trays on a shelf for some; multi-age grouping that can only happen at a school for some; and other variations. Indeed, Montessori incorporates freedom, a very few trays, multiple ages can be addressed in a homeschool situation in another way (including for only-children - siblings have that multi-age setting built-in!)

Planning - juxtaposed with Montessori, some people flip over. You can't *plan* a child's education weeks and months in advance - especially not in a Montessori setting! No, this is correct - I cannot tell you what your child should be doing the second of week of June the year they are 4 years old; nor can I (or *anyone*!) tell you what your child should be doing the 25th week of the 3rd year of elementary. Sorry!

But what DO we have? We have a set of key experiences that are typical for the universal child within some time ranges. We can be prepared to provide for those key experiences as the child is ready for them. This part of the three-sided support that IS an authentic Montessori environment - the prepared adult. Please visit that link for the prepared adult - because it highlights some of the many things we adults need to be prepared for - items such as right use of imagination, the four planes of development, human needs and tendencies and so much more!

What about those who don't follow a schedule - and maybe not even a loose routine?
I personally still need to have an idea of what is upcoming - so we can ensure we have time, space, materials, and the right attitude (nothing like saying "Mom, I want to do the river model" when the only space available to do one indoors is the only clear space in the home because of our other projects! ;)

CAVEAT: None of the planning suggestions on this page are boxed into a particular schedule or routine. What is here, is adaptable to any kind of schedule.

The planning style that has worked in our home: 

First, I need some tools:
  • Key experiences appropriate to the plane of development of the child/ren before me. 
  • Noting the particular child's needs and interests. 
  • Something to record work done. How will work done be recorded? So I know what to plan next time? Montessori Trails page on work plans and work journals in a Montessori setting
    • For younger children, this is my own record - I can just check off a presentation or an exercise as being presented. I am planting seeds that will sprout later - giving keys for them to utilize in their own explorations and discoveries; sometimes they will repeat something, other times not - so I don't record things like "repeated, mastery, etc.". I am a homeschool parent, not a school teacher. And my current students who come to me from their own families "master" at home, not with me. If I were in a situation to worry about mastery, I would observe and have conversations to see if the concept is mastered - and have a second checkmark for that, Seriously? Keep it simple.
    • For older children - elementary children and some kindergarteners, we have a work plan/journal to look at in planning our next steps. In kindergarten and first grade, that can be as simple as moving cards of chosen work from one basket to another
  • That's it. KEEP IT SIMPLE. You are a homeschool parent, with a household and other family members to take care of - and yourself to take care! Montessori is about exploration and discovery - not about being the smartest kid in the universe! ;) 
Some early work plan/journal samples.
Legoboy's First Work Plan/Journal
Used at age 5-6 

Next, I need to put those tools together! The following photos show primary level first; then elementary. 

You'll notice I am only planning for MY presentations. At primary, the child's work is the child's choice within the parameters you have laid out. At elementary, the work plan (conversation) with the child is where the child notes what he is going to do about his particular interests and I the adult can note any outings we will be taking, any supplies to have on hand, etc. The child should be involved in this planning too!!!

THUS - the child's day might inlude a new presentation (0-5 depending on the age and the need) and their own self-selected follow-up work, which might correspond with your presentation and might not. You still have family time, free time, outings, etc. as well. 

Primary Montessori Homeschool Planning

Intervals - for starting with a child at 2 and a half years old, you can figure about 6 months for each interval. Starting with an older child? Begin with those earlier intervals but your child will move more quickly through them. Allow them to move at their speed, it is YOUR preparations that will be stepped up a bit. Beginning with an elementary child? Start with the elementary work, not the primary!

Need to organize material purchases and material-making? That is where the intervals also come in handy - focus on THIS 6-month time period. If your child gets ahead in something, then you only have that one area to look ahead in!

The first interval is only 2 pages - and decent size font at that! 

Plug into a chart - could be a weekday-based one or just a grid, with everything in order - check it off as you go. Or don't plug into a chart and just use the "first interval" (or your current interval section) and select a few activities to show your child this week - you can quickly look it over to pull out another idea if your child is expressing an interest in a particular area. 

Starting out with a 2.5 year old, this is what our chart might look like.
note I crossed off weekday indications.
It isn't about which day you do something - it is about the child's readiness.
We would do walking on the line, some language and some preliminary exercises of practical life on day 1.
Otherwise, I just pick activites in each thread and move forward;
review as needed; when ready, move on to the next stage - mastery only when clearly necessary.
These could be dated if you need that record; or just checkmark or highlight. 

draw a line to separate the threads.
Each day pick 1-5 items to focus on (some things are quick)
or each week pick a few items to focus on. Move forward from there. 

Elementary Montessori Homeschool Planning

Elementary - this can get a bit trickier because there are more "threads" that overlap one another. 

I still only plan weekly and sometimes daily for my own particular presentations for particular timing; looking ahead to the month or a few months to be sure I have materials on hand; with some days of preparing the materials right before giving the presentation or even WHILE giving the presentation! 

Children at this age can see the entire scope/sequence or just provide them the suggested scope/sequence by year. In this way, they can see what is coming up, request something or otherwise prepare for it. 

The elementary child has their own work plan and work journal, which can include more information. My son's routinely includes researching some aspect of an ancient civilization for example; and as a family we strive for routine astronomical observations and studies. These aren't planned as much as we learn about something and my son puts it on HIS chart. 

I have done a plan book at times - lay out every thread in its separate physical thread - anything that wouldn't come until after that thread is closed can be filled in after the end of the activites in that thread. So Decimal Fractions chapter comes after the Fractions chapter - I don't have an individual row for each of those. This can mean we are on separate pages in the plan book I am using, but it does allow individual pacing. One way to get around the multiple pages? cut along the lines that separate each row and paper clip loose pages together - so when I open it up, I am only on the current placement in each thread. This works for ONE child in the home; or a small number of children that you are giving the same general presentations to, with their own individual follow-up. 

And I have re-organized the elementary scope/sequence to show one year at a time - it's a large chart, but could be a useful image for the children. 

Scope and Sequence in chart form (each subject in a column,
3 pages each (some are more blank than others since threads differ in length)
Art and Music are more free-form, so are not included in this image. 
My son's plan for a while - with the threads written horizontally.
Highlight as we finished - could date them if we needed such a record.
Not all things are highlighted, though Legoboy is done;
because I couldn't keep up with it!
I needed to write it out for my own mental preparation
but then I preferred the checklist approach most of the time. 
The threads do peter out - not all are the same length.
But this gives the children time for their *own* studies:
reading, building, DOING. 

So you can see - KEEP IT SIMPLE. Use a checklist for your own presentations if that works; the children shouldn't have a checklist, but should be given the key presentations, ask questions and find ways to answer their own questions. Lots of real life experiences, outings, and lots and lots of DOING.

How do all of these plans pan out?
See this page for some samples of A Day in the Life of a Montessori Homeschool.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Tessellations - Pattern Blocks - In Montessori

Tessellations are an awesome extension of the Montessori experiences. While not a "Montessori material", they are perfect for children of all ages.

There is one modification I make to them, to align them with Montessori principles: if they come with a set of design cards, I utilize any of the cards that show how the pieces form other pieces (this is akin to the constructive triangles material); and I remove all the cards that show designs.
The three cards on the right - we like those type for some self-guidance.
The two cards on the right - I prefer the children to discover those patterns for themselves. 

Why? Because the children should use the pieces to create their own designs and discover for themselves the variety of "pictures" they can form. I find too many times over that providing the design cards, locks a child's mind into design mode and less on creative pattern discovery.

Toys in a Montessori Home - Lower Elementary
Tessellation Patterns in our Co-Op

Informative and interesting site about Tessellations:

Some 3-dimensional "tessellations" - the power of 2 in elementary and the power of 3 in adolescent mathematics.

Fractals extensions totally work off of here too!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Final Upper Elementary Work Plan

Legoboy is coming to an end of his elementary years and is already showing signs of the Adolescent mind... sleeping a lot more; moody-moody-moody; more expression through hand-work; and needing more guidance with his work plans, where he was really independent for quite a while there.

This last bit threw me for a loop, but also entirely makes perfect sense. For all of us who have spent a few years avoiding the checklist mentality with the work plans???? Guess what the adolescent actually NEEDS! A checklist!

A checklist developed together - not something pre-determined - and the child still has control over his day and week and month and year and interests and studies, but the child right now *craves* more connection with the adults around him, seeks that guidance so much more when the previous second plane of development was worked through properly with a strong relationship built and all internal needs met ---- so this new child just wants to know what the expectations are so he can get on with things. He IS working toward a goal now - whether that be to finish middle school or high school, earn specific credits, learn a specific skill in order to do a particular activity, etc. There really needs to be more of an "end in sight" mentality.

We are still in the transitioning phase. And I have already noticed something as I type this up - unbeknownst to me and just following our natural Montessori paths, we are totally moving into a classical direction. Bess at Grace & Green Pastures has already identified this connection and has some plans in mind - I always saw the connections, and know that others have combined the two, but I never really made a plan - I had a few specific goals for our household as a family, otherwise the plan is to meet the needs of each individual and the family as a whole. And here we are - classical! ;)

So here goes - final semester of upper elementary Montessori homeschooling for my precious baby, Legoboy!

Finishing up the elementary albums

Legoboy has slowed down *quite* a bit on the final presentations - partly his own readiness and interest, partly to help me create videos. He figures he will get those presentations with the videos and he mostly enjoys helping me (he earns Dairy Queen blizzards as well as a percentage of each KotU sale that includes video access).

Also, the albums are not the be-all-end-all of your homeschool curriculum. They are a foundation and a structure on which the individual child and the individual family has time to explore areas of personal interest and family importance. So many resources can be plugged in as the child reaches out into the world and deeply explore their areas of interest at the time of their interest. For example, I could sit here and complain about not finding just the right match of a study resource for my son to care about American History, but really? He has been exploring the Highlights series on the states, reads lots of books (ahem, historical fiction) of various time periods and locations, we watch a lot of movies, we discuss all of those movies and books and references that he isn't clear on - and it all ends up interconnecting. Oh yes - and games. Board games, card games, dice games, you name it, we play it; and the more educational or strategic, the more we play it. And there are geography games too!

  • Mathematics - I have been eyeing some of the adolescent algebra presentations - the early ones - for Legoboy. He seems ready and the author (Mike Waski) says that some of the work can be done in upper elementary. I recently attended a workshop and tried to engage in a conversation about which could be where, but time was so limited, we didn't get back to it. Follow the child!
  • Art - at this point, art works into everything. I do want to do a history of art timeline this year yet. And he has plans to work through Art-Pac 6 for basic simple fun. 
  • Music - we still need to work on the tone bars, but will do those as we get to them in the videos. Otherwise, he has history of many composers and styles down pat, piano lessons (see below) and a wide variety of musical interests under his belt. 
  • Biology - we have thoroughly covered this album, but he will help with the videos for some built-in review. 
  • Geometry - A few spots left to fill in, but he wants to just do them with the videos - it will be good to show audiences a genuine "first lesson" ;) 
  • History - we have this covered ;) 
  • Language Arts - also covered; he will do review with the related videos and he is doing literature studies as noted below. 

1/23/2016 --- OOPS! I posted this before Legoboy looked it over. He said I made some mistakes - I added in some things he wants to work towards doing in the autumn, when he is fully in adolescent mode. So I have struck some things out! Sorry!

Literature Studies - stemming from the elementary Language Arts album
Legoboy chose some pre-written literature studies from Memoria Press to go through of his own accord. This year the focus is on Adam of the Road, Door in the Wall, King Arthur, and Robin Hood. He likes these guides himself; as for my preference, I would like to see related art and science suggestions, etc - you know, more of the cosmic education components. When I let up my own expectations though, and let Legoboy lead - he always pulls in these outside studies himself. When I start to do something he backs off. You'd think I'd've learned my lesson by now! Someday. ;)

Poetry: He is also working through the Poetry selections in Poetry for the Grammar Stage.

Geography Studies - stemming from the elementary Geography album
The Keys of the Universe albums do not at this particular moment have a "functional geography" chapter. The geography album almost had this in it ---- then the jumpdrive was lost right before a back-up was going to be made. Yeah. Not a good day (now a month...).

Legoboy's chosen paths have been the inspiration for what *will* be in that geography album in regards to functional geography. He chose these resources based on a wide variety of options (including not using any particular resource at all). And as the soon-to-be-adolescent he is becoming, he is really eating up the idea of following the lessons point by point, stopping to add in his own; discussing with me when he hits a point he already knows (verify his knowledge so he can move on) or is bored with (verify he knows enough to move on, or how much to work through anyway to move on to the next lesson).

All of these really get into specific cultures, music, art, as well as the physical geography of the local area.
Why so much? Because he wants to!

Ancient Greek - stemming from love of all things ancient History as well as Biblical
Online course through Homeschool Connections.

Cover Story
He took a long break from this as he shifted focus to other areas. Next month he plans to pick it up again, probably from the beginning. Here is the post where he first started Cover Story.
Although he HAS started going through it again, he asks me to note that he probably won't delve into it until we have the Keys of the Universe Montessori homeschooling videos finished. Why this connection? Beats me, other than the amount of time involved.

Christian Studies
Legoboy has been working through Memoria Press's Christian Studies 1, 2 and 3 at a rather fast clip. He has studied so much of this within the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium already as well as his own studies and other homeschool studies, so this is just putting it into another framework. He uses this as a review and it is going FAST.

US History - finally finishing !? 
The post where he started US History studies - way back! We still have those resources; but they are not meeting our particular needs anymore. The book mentioned there is good; I think it will be more meaningful now we have gone through the videos. With that video overview, Legoboy is moving along more smoothly through his study book; then we will get back to the book in the other post, with its even greater detail on the eras it covers.

Key Montessori principle for the elementary age: whole to the parts. Overview, then delve into the details of interest. As we delve into these various details (of which he is creating a notebook of questions and ideas to explore that he does not want to research until he has had the entire overview (videos) and finished the study book), we will explore various viewpoints and use a variety of sources.

Legoboy continues to participate in the local parish's level 3 atrium. This has been a mixed bag experience. The current catechist is brand-new to being in level 3 full-time, only recently finished her training, and has a great deal of other responsibilities on her shoulders. It is a lot for her. An adult male friend of the family and his daughter have recently returned to the atrium, so Legoboy is much more amenable to attending as long as they are present. Previously, he would ask ME to give him a presentation at home and suggest some work options - now he knows there will at least be some good exploration of some aspect of the faith. So - he goes. And texts me during class to ask what he should work on... Not because he isn't capable but because the structure of the class is no longer amenable to children identifying their personal interests and following through on it - that and he can't find half the materials. Pray for this catechist! Her heart is normally one of gold and there have been some difficult situations of late!

Piano Lessons
Last week, Legoboy started on his first official piano lessons. To date, I have taught him, he has self-taught using The Music Tree books, and he has had random music lessons from various individuals. It has been a while and he needs something more consistent. So there goes any extra money I thought we would have from being debt-free! He really does enjoy playing the piano, though - so the cost is totally worth it.

Strengthening and Conditioning
The local YMCA has a class that we've not seen listed in the program before, but apparently has been offered for a while. This class meets twice a week for an hour (plus 5 laps around the building before or after) for children about 4th through 8th grade. The idea seems to be a "something to do in between other sports". Since Legoboy doesn't play any seasonal sports, this has been a great ongoing class for him - they do a lot of what looks like military drills, use a variety of workout equipment - and his favorite part: use some of the workout machines and big equipment (the stuff that the Y says you have to be older than he is AND receive a demo on how to use!).

Legoboy continues with taekwondo - the instructors are teasing he is making career of the school black belt! Normally you test for the school black belt, than take (and pass) the association test about a month later. The association only has tests every 6 months. We are coming up on the 3rd one since Legoboy got the school black belt, and we're still not sure if he is going to test or not! He just needs SNAP in his forms; instead he looks bored (he IS bored - so he does them sloppy - this is an internal attitude that needs work).

In the meantime, he LOVES tournaments!
My handsome :)
Last Saturday's tournament:
1st in breaking
3rd in weapons forms
no place in regular forms (bored look on his face)

Swim lessons
He is also on his umpteenth session of the swim lessons for the lowest level. He IS making improvement in every area, but just hasn't moved out of the lowest level class since he started lessons in summer 2014. He started with a 3 week summer session, twice a week; then did one session on then one session off (a session is typically 7 weeks) for a while, but he just started his 3rd session in a row to just get past the basic skills. Then he can re-evaluate to continue on or take a break.

Other - more informal:

We still have other studies going, but not on any official basis:
  • Life of Fred - we'll pick up more next year. Legoboy has read all of the stories already ;) 
  • Key To workbooks - again, we'll pick up the rest next year. 
  • Khan Academy - totally informal. He works on it when he likes, on whatever topics he likes. Most recently he has been focusing on some coding classes they have. 
  • Minecraft Mod Coding class online 

As you can see, we are really kind of coming together, consolidating. The coming adolescent (middle school) years will continue academic growth, but at a slower pace. More in another post! 

What about the 6th grade local educational standards? With all the flux with common core, not common core, but still have to revamp our standards (which were already *better* than common core) to be in line with common core, without being common core..... 

I'll be blunt: 

I. Don't. Care. 

Our local schools don't finish a textbook anyway; when we do a course of study, we meet all goals. 
Our local schools have children all over the place regarding mastery; when we do a course of study, we master the material. 
Our local schools are good schools and meet the needs of most of the local children; my son's homeschool meets the needs of 100% of its students.

I am all for checking in with local standards, ensuring we have the same terminology, that all concepts are covered. 

But when local school districts can't get it together, it is time to move on with my child's education. 

Ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ----- the Montessorian in me can't just set it aside and not LOOK. 

Everything I see in our current state standards for math, social studies, science, language arts, health & wellness ---- is covered by the Montessori experiences as I have them in the KotU or in a child's natural follow-up studies - OR will be succinctly covered in the upcoming adolescent math album. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Foster Friday - Pre-Licensing

Once a family has discerned a desire and readiness (is anyone ever really ready?) to become a foster family and serve children in need of care, the easy part is over!

The forms are pretty standard - background checks on everyone in the house (including minors), information on yourself, previous addresses, and the like.

Then a decently long (could have been longer) questionnaire on your own upbringining, relationships with family members, etc. It brought up a lot of thinking about a variety of situations in a short amount of time, that I have only have considered in isolation or very limited connection with others. But frankly? having children here with tons of emotional baggage is going to do that on a much more intense scale.

Fingerprinting was fast and easy - sign up for a time and location online, show up at the right time with your proof of identity, and they scan your finger prints on essentially, a scanner. It goes into the computer right away and I had an e-mail with my search results in less than 24 hours. No ink, Just a little dance ;) They need to roll your fingers to get the width of them... and sometimes this means playing the game of Twister! It was good exercise and a good laugh for the 11 year old (no, he did not get his fingerprints done - he just watched).

The references part was fun. Two of my chosen references wanted to talk with me, long and serious about the realities of foster parenting before they would agree to fill out the form. In the end, neither of them has talked to me, but they did fill out the form. These are two good friends who are also priest - one of whom I met before I knew I was pregnant with my son and the other I had met one year previous to that. We have been through some tough times together.

Another reference was more than happy to do so, but never sent in the form, so I needed to find a replacement.

Our state pays for all the necessary training and background checks. There is no cost at the outset for anything. Even the forms I filled out were in a postage-paid envelope. I do have cover my own transportation TO training of course.

Adult/Child CPR/1st Aid/AED is a required certification to be maintained. These days? Most of it can be done online, with only 2 hours done in person. In the old days (back when I had no gray hair - oh wait, I still don't! we'll see how long THAT lasts with more children at home!), a course that covered all of this was easily an 8 hour day.

But I tell you what! Doing it online is HARD! I couldn't figure out why this one scenario just wasn't working out no matter what I did. The person had cut their arm with a sharp knife while chopping lettuce. I gave all care and did everything "right" in that the person was fine when paramedics arrived - would totally survive with no lasting negative effects of my care. Hahahahahaha./ 9 times doing that scenario! She had dropped the sharp knife on the floor and I failed to pick it up or kick it out of the way, each and every time. I truly think I learned more doing it that way than in-person. In-person they would have reminded me about it and moved on. On the computer I actually had to DO it to pass. I will never forget the bloody knife!

Legoboy: He did part of the class over my shoulder; then I signed up for a cheap non-certified version he has been going through himself. There is no time limit for him, or a need to finish up before a certain time so we can get to the in-person portion of the class since he doesn't have an in-person portion; so he is going through every single scenario, trying out different things and seeing the results. Sometimes it has hilarious results, like when the lady with the cut arm says, "I told you this already, just HELP me!!!"

I wrote more about our CPR experience in this post.

Legoboy and I did this one together as well - it is entirely online and I feel it is VERY good information for an older elementary and an adolescent to be aware of. Just proper procedures for addressing blood around the home and workplace. He and I were able to discuss how we will address specific situations and we discussed the feasibility of my caring for a child who may need injections, what type of situations would require injections (diabetes for some children still requires injections, for example), how we will take care of syringes, keeping other children away from them, and the like. It prompted a good deal of research into how injections are done these days, how some treatments have become SO much easier than when I was a child...

which led to a rabbit trail into a variety of diseases and disorders. We just covered this lightly, and for now that is fine - a light overview of what a child may need when coming to our home, so he is not entirely shocked by something. No fool-proof method, but exposure helps!

RAPT training
This is one area I am a bit disappointed about in our state. We are only required to have 10 hours of pre-service training to be a foster parent (14 if doing foster-to-adopt).

RAPT I is introduction to Department of Child Services - 3 hours. In our area, there are very limited training sessions scheduled - given our location, few people would come anyway. I could have gone to one 45 minute drive (through windy, country roads), but it was over 6 weeks out. There was one upcoming the following Saturday morning, so I asked my specialist to register me for that one if it was still available. She got me in! I woke up EARLY on a Saturday morning, having already made arrangements for an instruction from Legoboy's taekwondo to pick him up to help with a belt test that morning (Legoboy himself wasn't testing), followed by a STORM team class (also taekwondo) and the taekwondo Christmas party, where I would meet up them in the afternoon.

Well, the day didn't exactly dawn. On a normal, clear day, the drive time is 2 1/4 hours. One way. The fog was DENSE. I was an hour and a half in, making good progress actually, as it was all on the expressway... when I got the call they were cancelling. Their area was getting "freezing fog" - which is only made more hilarious by the fact we haven't seen snow yet in our area this winter - just lots of rain. So, around I turned. And I went shopping instead. Might as well - nobody else was out! Which worked out well anyway, because I was getting necessary things to finish up some projects at home, some work orders, and got some good deals on winter clothing for Legoboy. I normally don't shop in stores during Advent, even minimizing grocery shopping; so it was great to access the sales in-person yet not have a crowded store.

The sun finally came out mid-afternoon - barely. It was dense fog until well past noon.

RAPT II is Child Abuse and Neglect, done entirely online at Foster Parent College. DCS provides a coupon code to pay for it, just as they did with the CPR and the BloodBorne Pathogens. I had Legoboy sit with me for as much as he could handle of it. The only images he couldn't look at were the ones of the baby's feet dipped into hot water - like wearing red stockings. It was very good for him to see all of that. Given the protocol training I have done for 4 different Catholic dioceses, it all made me sad, but it was nothing new.

RAPT III - 3 hours - Attachment, Discipline and Effects of Care Giving on the Family Overview --- was even trickier to find a location that would work. With the times and the scheduling needs, not wanting to leave Legoboy at home at night or for more than a short period of time, in the end, we are driving to the other end of our state. Which sounds crazy (almost a 3 hour drive!) but it works out well. His godmother lives there with her husband, toddler and baby-on-the-way. So we will go visit for the day, let her meet her husband after work for a short date; then she will be home in time for me to leave for training nearby to their home. Legoboy can get some time with his godmother and her husband - and more experience playing with a 1 year old ;)

This happens next Tuesday.

There is a RAPT IV required for those who want to do foster-to-adopt. I am open to the possibility, but since I am going into this as a foster parent only, I was told to wait I have my license in hand and use RAPT IV as part of my yearly ongoing training hours. If I take it now, the hours don't count anywhere; and taking it again won't count.

Home Study
The final pre-licensing step is the Home Study. This will come after RAPT III - typically 2-3 visits - then we wait for the caseworkers to have time to type things up. When they get that all typed up, it sent to the state's main office and I was told within 48 hours, they will call with the foster home licensing number. The physical license mailed after that; some families get their first children before they have the paper copy of their license - as long as the number is in the system!

My thoughts?
I would like to see more required hours in the pre-service phase. Let the people who really mean it, know what they are in for. For example, I would like to see something specifically on Reactive Attachment Disorder, because this can be helpful in aiding children with other Attachment Disorders as well, not just "reactive". But it also lets foster parents know what they are potentially in for - as well as what they might be setting the children up for if they send them away over minor incidents. Whatever we are going to cover in the 3 hour RAPT III on attachment won't get very deep! But I will update if it does ;)

I would also LOVE to see a portion of the training set aside specifically for one's local area. What are the typical patterns, the typical needs, who are the caseworkers (I know these change; but I did receive this list from the county where I did RAPT I - not so helpful here ;) ). What is the typical process going to be like when I get that call.

Our state does list a "Nuts and Bolts" course in the course catalog, but I never see it on the schedule - this one seems like it would cover a lot more of the nitty gritty. Stuff I would like to see beforehand:

This training takes a look at some of the immediate practical issues that every resource parent needs to know. By the end of the training participants will: understand the importance of Life books; be familiar with Medical Passports; know the policies regarding smoking; know the fundamentals of child seat safety and how to access further information; have a general understanding of the Child and Adolescent Strength and Needs Assessment; and know what the complaint resolution process for a resource parent is. 

Post-licensing, there are 15 hours required every year; some can be done online, some using books and videos provided on a long list (Legoboy and I have already been perusing it and building up our library with helpful resources), and 8 hours must be done in person. So I can get further training in whatever areas I want. I would just have liked to see some of it sooner is all.

Legoboy's Pre-Service Training: 
As noted in the post you are reading as well as this previous post about our pre-service adventures, Legoboy is making his own preparations.
  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Babysitting course (just the non-certified one for now)
  • Family First Aid and CPR - Adult and Pediatric (Online only)
In addition we have been exploring the following topics together or Legoboy on his own: 
  • RAPT II - Child Abuse & Neglect (noted above)
  • Exploration of typical needs issues - learning needs, health needs, behavior needs. 
  • Far too many minutes discussing lice, chemical versus natural treatments, what will happen if someone comes into our home with it. Via foster parent group on Facebook, we were prompted to look at essential oils - he and I are now adding (alternately) peppermint essential oil and tea tree essential oil to our shampoo which is a natural detterent. And he is looking to different types of combs and head/hair treatments. I told him my story of having lice in high school - I worked with children a LOT and I have long hair. I had lice *so bad* for 3 years, I have a couple of permanent scars. Everyone that tried to help me, gave me one and MAYBE two treatments with the shampoo, combed and combed and combed - and called it good. But it didn't clear it. One time after a shampoo treatment, my grandparents were combing my hair and onto the towel fell several live ones. We did *everything* we were supposed to do, except the "natural" stuff because that was totally poo-pooed in our area at the time. The only thing that stopped it? Combing my hair, myself, every single night, for months. I would either comb for an hour or until I had 5 clear comb strokes with no eggs, shells, or hatched ones. Physical removal. Kept it tightly braided during the day, with hair spray, to not give it to anyone else. Two months in? Totally clear and never had it again since. That sort of story gets the fire burning under Legoboy! 
  • Together we watched the movie ReMoved - found on YouTube. This led to some really good, intense discussions. The one that stands out for him is when one foster family placed the girl in the shower with all of her clothes on, as punishment for dropping their record player off the balcony. For the record, she had been scolded for picking fruit from a tree in their yard - I have to admit, I was cheering on the dropping of the record player. What stood out most for me was the dress she was given by the next foster mom - she flipped out, said she hated it, etc. (it reminded her of her birthfamily and the abuse that happened there). Later, she put the dress on and ran out to show the foster mom, only to find the foster mom on the phone presumably asking if the girl could be taken somewhere else. Turns out that is NOT what the mom was doing, but you'll have to watch to found out! Grab a box of tissues - and don't let your young children watch. I would question upper elementary watching as well, if they have been well-sheltered - in my son's case, he needs the exposure for what is coming into our home. There are no sexual references, I don't recall any language issues. It was just emotionally intense, there is implied violence between the parents, the shower scene, the outbursts of "I hate you" a lot. Tissues on hand! 
  • He read through the book Garbage Bag Kids - about one family's experiences as a foster family. 
  • Legoboy inadvertently had an overview of the book A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer. I read it many years ago, along with The Lost Boy (its sequel). I need to re-read them before handing them over to Legoboy. And it may be that I screen some portions. On Amazon I got a copy that has these two stories and A Man Called Dave which I have not yet read myself. Since he had that overview, I also shared with him key points from the story from Dave's brother, the one who took his place in the family home as the abused and tormented (Richard Pelzer A Brother's Journey). Two faces on a prism that represents the entire story. Some of those faces we will never know. Just like with our foster children, there are some puzzle pieces we will never have, and how are we going to address this, not knowing what all the child has gone through, when they react vehemently from my serving pizza for dinner (just one example that can set a child off - innocently). 

In addition, we have been preparing our home. Next month's topic is on our physical preparations within our home, our finances, our schedule, and consideration of transportiation.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Montessori Trails - Blog Plans for 2016

As we start the New Year, I have organized some ideas for our family's Montessori Trails blog for the coming year. In no particular order:

Adolescent Montessori:
Legoboy is moving up in the world. He will be 12 in April and we are finishing up with elementary Montessori and moving into adolescent Montessori homeschooling. We began in infancy, so this is bittersweet for this mommy! The goal is to post weekly - Tuesdays, perhaps.

12 Months of Montessori:
While I am not officially a part of the series, several people have asked me for posts on the pertinent topic for each month throughout 2015. So the first Friday of each month will be dedicated to this year's related topics. 2016 List of Topics and 2015 List of Topics

Foster Family Friday:
The second Friday of each month will be dedicated to our foster family experiences. I will not be showing children's faces or revealing names, just our adventures as a changing family structure and our Montessori approach to this new situation. I may post more often, but that will the dedicated day.

Infant, Toddler, Primary, Elementary:
But we are not done with the younger ages! With the inclusion of foster children and continued tutoring, as well as plans to get our our homeschool co-op moving forward again, I will have plenty of our younger adventures to share as well. There is a soon-to-be 3 year old who is visiting weekly and I hope to have a weekly post on his adventures to highlight one child's particular journey exploring the keys of the world. Posting this area on the remaining Fridays of the month.
  • Infant and Toddler - A page with some posts listed and directly linked; a link for all posts labeled infant or toddler is also included. 
  • Primary - all posts tagged "Primary Montessori Homeschooling"
  • Elementary - all posts tagged "Elementary Montessori Homeschooling" (you can also click on the tags/labels in the left-hand column of any page on Montessori Trails - Upper Elementary and Lower Elementary have their own tags to differentiate the age of the children working. We see elementary as a continuum so the *materials* are the same across all 6 years of elementary - just that when a child gets to a particular material or experience is based on the individual needs and interests of that particular child). 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Culture Studies in Our Home

We have not really written about our cultural studies in our Montessori home... or have we?

What is included in cultural studies?
  • Political geography 
  • Physical geography - and biomes - climate - all of these affect how people live, the choices they make, and even how the political lines are divided!
  • Music, art, clothing - all those choices that people of different regions make
  • History of various areas - what happened in the past still affects today
  • Economic Geography - goods that are available in one area might not be available in another; or there might not be enough in one area to support the needs and desires of the local people. 

A Montessori Nugget on Culture in Montessori

Previous stops along the Montessori Trails - not all-inclusive: 
Continent Folders - Primary
Some of Legoboy's work plans - Upper Elementary age
A Week in the Life of Legoboy - earlier Upper Elementary
Timelines: Doing the Child's Work for Him