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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Montessori Math - Word Problems - Option: Zaccaro's Challenge Math

Legoboy and I received our copy of Upper Elementary Challenge Math two days ago and all I can say as I go through it is YES! Yes, yes yes yes yes yes!

As I suggest in the comments on my first post on the Challenge Math series, I find that for typically developing Montessori children, we can add 1-2 years to Mr. Zaccaro's age suggestions. These books were designed for gifted children and they tie in wonderfully with our math and geometry experiences.

This book says grades 3-5 - and I say YES! Adding two years puts it at Montessori "grades" 5-7 (misnomer there but bear with me ;) ). My son is "5th grade" and I would say he is just about ready for this book, the first levels of each chapter. I have a few more reviews I would like him to do in the first book (Primary Grade Challenge Math) before we dive into this one; if we hadn't been waylaid by other life events, he would be entirely ready for this book.

Now the difference between Upper Elementary and Primary Grade? There are additional problem sets (3-8 pages of them!) before even getting to the "levels". Both books have the same levels - Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and Einstein. Primary Grade did not have the additional problem sets though and at times I feel like there are not "enough" word problems... to the point I re-wrote a few (just a few in the end) with different numbers, just for more practice. This book fills it ALL in. If I had known what was coming, I would have let it go and just enjoyed the Primary Grade Challenge Math for what it is, holding out for Upper Elementary Challenge Math.

Well now I know. And I love it.

I could see this book carrying us through the rest of elementary and getting us started in adolescence. Then moving into the original Challenge Math book. At the time we started Primary Grade, the next step available was Challenge Math - so this Upper Elementary Challenge Math fits a nice little transition stage perfectly!

I LIKED math growing up - because I always knew there was something more there - I picked up pieces of it here and there, but mostly missed the boat.

This is ONE EXCITED Montessori Mama - I get to do all of this too!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Real Cost of Montessori Training

Costs of Montessori Trainings --- Only my personal experience:

Primary Montessori Training - 1 academic year format - 1:00-5:30 every week day:

  • $9000 - training center itself - in the form of a 1.76-3.8% variable rate loan
  • $1000 - Rental truck to move across country, including gas
  • $3000 - ultimate out-of-pocket cost for 9 months of full-day childcare after state assistance kicked in (Montessori school)
  • $300 - incidentals (paper, ink, binders, etc.)
  • can't measure - the cost of closing a profitable in-home childcare, working part-time (3-5 hours a morning as an aide with hours added as the year went on) only in the last 7 months (the original aide was a single woman, not a mother, responsible, also in the training with me - she continually called me to sub for her the morning that the weekly assignments were due since hers weren't done; when she finally put in two weeks notice because she couldn't work and do the training, the directress/guide wanted to hire me, but the school board wondered how a single MOTHER could manage to work and go to school if a single WOMAN couldn't; they ultimately hired me and more hours were slowly added because I COULD do it.)
  • Not included: expenses we would have had anyway (food, etc.). Although food costs went up because I was purchasing bulk food and receiving money from the Federal Food Program for the daycare I had; now we were on our own and buying in smaller quantities - the prices goes up per person.

Elementary Montessori Training - 3 summer format - 8-hours each day:

  • $9000 - training center itself - in the form of a graduate loan through Loyola in Maryland - 6.8%
  • $20,000 - graduate credit at Loyola towards a Master's in Education-Montessori - in the form of same graduate loan - 6.8%
  • $5,250 - housing for all summers combined
  • $750 - materials available on-site at a steep discount (or unavailable elsewhere)
  • $400 - incidentals (paper, ink, binders, etc.) - cost went up due to twice as much paper, and they wanted it re-printed a few more times.
  • $900 - summer camp cost for the weeks my son was with me
  • Not included: two weekend seminars (I did not attend); travel expenses between training center, where my son was a portion of each summer and where we live/d, other living expenses we would have had anyway.
  • can't measure: time away from my son. With primary we were together every day, if not every hour of the day. With elementary, he went to family for weeks at a time. 
  • also can't measure: the emotional impact of the severe discrimination faced as a practicing/believing Christian (and a Catholic to boot!), a homeschooler (egads) and a woman who can get things done without whining about everyone else in the room (about 1/3 the group was constantly picking on everyone else). The constant re-writes of album pages because I kept Christian statements in the stories where they said "you can modify this to suit your own beliefs" - well, I am a Christian, so I will "modify" by keeping the Christian statements, thank you. Nope, that was apparently the wrong thing to do. And the constant apologies for the Christianity of Montessori were beyond just rolling one's eyes and ignoring it - it was downright cruel to Maria Montessori. Another training center may have been more respectful. (all those re-writes, and they couldn't catch actual safety typos - like typing the wrong chemical name for a demonstration).
I ended up sick during both trainings. In primary, our heat was accidentally "swiffered up", drying out my lungs in those few hours before we figured out what was going on, ended up in a severe coughing spell for weeks that caused me to almost pass out, cough up blood, and the doctors couldn't do anything. A friend gave me an old-fashioned humidifier and voila! Two days later I was fine. No amounts of boiling water on the stove took care of it as well as that cold-water humidifier.

In elementary, I was bit by either a tic or a spider - severe bulls-eye rash that wrapped around my leg. The doctor gave me a strong antibiotic for it - that I ended up sensitive to. Unable to focus while on it, severely motion sick (threw up several times on the way to the training center from the place we were staying), and unable to eat well within the first few hours of taking the twice daily dose. I had tiny windows of opportunity to get something in that would stay down. Finished the 10-day run and am hoping it wasn't a tic, so I don't have to worry about Lyme's Disease (so far, so good!).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Astronomy from NASA

For those of you waiting for my to have things unpacked enough to start showing off all the cool things I LOVE about our new home ;) here is a neat NASA astronomy unit to download and utilize in our schools and homeschools:

Eyes on the Solar System

Tell me what YOU think of it!