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About MThurow

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    Hive Mind Larvae
  1. I've thought a lot about this topic! I also have a good friend, trained in AMI, who started a Montessori school, and in conversation with her, one of the things she has pointed out is that it is basically impossible to have a "prepared environment" at home. She herself has not attempted such a thing, but, of course, she runs a Montessori, and so her 4 children go there. Anyway, the other difficulty with doing a "Montessori" style curriculum is that there is no formally published curriculum out there. Teachers who are trained in the pedagogy make their own materials and notebooks as they go through the courses. This is intentional obfuscation on the part of hard-core Montessori-ites, who believe that you cannot simply buy the materials and "do" Montessori-- you must be trained. So--- these are the obstacles for a homeschooler interested in the method. That being said, there are Montessori-like programs out there. I spent the past couple of months hemming and hawing about buying the Shiller math program, which is sort of Montessori based (in certain respects... they definitely don't have the beautiful array of manipulatives that my child had access to the one year she went to our local Montessori school)--- but they have some materials and, best of all, have a parent scripted guide. I just bought it today and will be trying it out. Apparently they also are trying out the market for Language Arts in a Montessori-style curriculum, but I didn't go for that, since I haven't researched it and it's all new. But I suspect that there are some other companies out there who are putting out materials that are compatible with Montessori. Obviously, if you are crafty, you could make a lot of fun materials, and if you have a lockable cabinet to keep everything out of reach when you're not teaching (lest the little one scatter things about and turn them into toys) you could have some fun with that! The array of materials in a Montessori classroom is definitely eye-candy, and the one thing that gave me real pause in pulling my child out to homeschool. But if you think about it, the home itself is one giant batch of manipulatives, practical life skills abounding. Maria Montessori created these kinds of things for the classroom because she was dealing initially with poor Italian street children whose parents were gone all day and weren't around to teach them these basic life skills that we, as homeschoolers, have the privilege of teaching our children every day in a very organic manner, without much to-do, or formality, or special materials.
  2. My 6 1/2 year old's reading really took off these past few months, without much effort on my part. She learned a handful of phonograms, resisted easy readers, has strongly resisted workbooks involving handwriting practice----- and now, is reading novels. She blew through Swallows and Amazons in 2 weeks, reading portions aloud, portions silently. I am puzzled as to how she figured out how to read such an array of complex words. Now she is reading Little House on the Prairie (I read Big Woods aloud to her last year) and she is really enjoying it and has commented on how much easier it is to read than Arthur Ransome's writing, which made me chuckle. So I have a dilemma. The child cannot spell. Going through phonics based spelling programs seems like a good idea in theory, but the ones I've looked at pre-suppose a beginning reader situation, and I fear that a program like that might be really tedious for her. She needs handwriting practice too, but I don't want to use a program that merely focuses upon dictation as a way to learn spelling, b/c I want her to have something more comprehensive and thorough. Her handwriting problems are compounded by the year she spent at Montessori learning only cursive but being presented with reading material in print, which she would then copy for copy work, without the guidance of proper print letter formation. My efforts to correct that last year annoyed and frustrated her a great deal, which probably has contributed to her resistance to any formal handwriting instruction. I am puzzled as to what to do! Thoughts would be appreciated! Thanks!
  3. The Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome, as someone mentioned above, is quite good, although it might be slightly higher than a 4th grade level. One of the books in the series, Peter Duck, has a couple of chapters with a good deal of pirate violence, so if sensitivity to violence is an issue, skip that one for now. (The violence is akin to Treasure Island style....) Chronicles of Narnia is great too. We have skipped The Last Battle for now because it is pretty serious and there are a couple of upsetting scenes in there that are more suitable for older children.
  4. Have you looked into Shiller Math? It is Montessori-based, scripted, good use of manipulatives, etc. I am trying it out this fall, and a friend of mine who is using it has really liked it.
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