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Montessori and classical homeschooling (can she do it?)?


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Hello,

 

Thanks so much in advance for reading. Any and all opinions are greatly appreciated.

 

I'm spending this year lurking on this board (and reading some of your blogs as well) in order to learn about the various approaches, styles, sources of material, and implementation plans for a WTM approach to homeschooling.

 

I should flag that I work outside of the home but I'm lucky in that my job allows very flexible hours. I currently work 5am-1pm four days/week. My two children (ages 3.5 and 22 months) and I are together every afternoon and all day Fri-Su. When I'm not home they are with their father or in school (see below) or with a recent college grad babysitter.

 

I would like to continue my career and provide homeschooling (technically afterschooling I guess) for my children using the classical approach. My eldest just started a very strict (in terms of interpretation) Montessori school that offers instruction until 6th grade conveniently located a few blocks from our house. My plan is to send the younger one to this Montessori school next fall or winter and keep them in school until they graduate at age 12 (one or two years apart).

 

I would pick them up around 1:30pm and we would have the entire rest of the day for instruction.

 

We are a no-TV, no computer household. No toys requiring batteries. Right now we spend our time doing a combination of (in order of frequency):

 

1. reading books (lots of Richard Scarry, Marjorie Flack, Eric Carle, Leo Lionni, Uri Shulevitz, E.B White, William Steig, Kenneth Grahame),

2. building things with blocks, bungee cords, springs, rope, magnets, etc.,

4. nature walks and digging for/identifying worms and bugs in our local park (we caught an ichneumon wasp last month!),

3. taking trips to the American Museum of Natural History (a 20 minute walk from our house, wonderfully) and other places around NYC.

 

I'm looking to manage my own expectations regarding what I can accomplish with homeschooling given my somewhat limited time.

 

I could imagine 'going for' a full hs experience using, for example, Friday and Saturday as full days and spreading further instruction across several days within the Mon-Thur 1pm and 6pm block of time. (Clearly we would ramp up from a base of one hour or so per day of instruction at the K level.)

 

Or I could imagine veteran Homeschoolers balking that this is doomed to fail/too ambitious and that I should aim to select a few subject for a deeper dive at home.

 

* I'm *passionate* about science, engineering, math, reading, comprehension and writing.

* I'm *very interested* in grammar, world culture and history

* I'm *keen on* (but not qualified to teach, perhaps) non-English languages (though I've studied ancient Greek in college), art and music.

 

And that's where I'm at.

 

Any comments, recommendations (especially of curriculum/instruction material that would complement a Montessori approach to learning, or 'you should read X's blog') -- would be really welcome.

 

Many thanks.

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I should say that 'their father' is my husband! Re-reading my post it sounded like we might not be together. We certainly are. My husband is the 'fun' parent in our house (roughhousing, reads them 'Thomas the Tank Engine' which I can't bear... I know, I know, mean Mom...).

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Manhattan Mom,

 

Welcome to the boards! These boards are a wonderful place to lurk and soak up lots of ideas. And don't just stick to the current threads; there are some great classic threads if you search for questions or interests you may have.

 

Could you do a full homeschool program alongside a full outside school program? Depends on your family and your dc, I suppose. And you may find it varies from year to year. Have you read the Afterschoolers board? Lots of families supplementing what you are doing.

 

In addition to the research you are doing here, I would recommend Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers. I've not had any of my dc in school, but there are excellent ideas in this book about how to come alongside your dc's teachers and supplement learning at home. I tolerated this book much more than Tiger Mom. :tongue_smilie:

 

HTH,

Lisa

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Afterschooling can be very successful, especially with a school schedule that leaves the afternoons free. As your children move thru the day school, you may find that some years you want concentrate more on science and math, other years on history - depending on the strengths of what your children are studying during the day.

 

Sounds great to me! And Welcome!

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Just a couple of random thoughts:

1. Don't overdo it. Even WTM recommends very little schoolwork for ages 4-5. The things you are already doing sound like plenty for the next few years. Your children will have had a lot of mental stimulation at the Montessori school and may be tired. They need free play time, IMO.

 

2. You might look into Charlotte Mason, if you haven't already. I think her writings would complement Maria Montessori's. See Elaine Cooper's When Children Love to Learn and Susan Macauley's For the Children's Sake, as well as CM's original writings.

 

Best wishes!

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Do the children get out of school at 1pm all the way up till age twelve?

 

Honestly, I think doing a full day of homeschooling on top of a full day of school is going to be too much for your children.

 

Now, if by homeschooling you mean lots and lots of read alouds (I would wait on the E.B. White and just do high quality picture books at the moment), nature walks, outdoor and active play, building things, doing puzzles, going on field trips, art projects, then yes, I would say you could do that. My only caution would be to make sure you offer enough time for independent free, dramatic play. That is so vitally important for them.

 

As they get older, around five or six, you might be able to do some school work after hours, but I probably would not do more than an hour of schoolwork after a full day of school. After Montessori school, I would try to provide a rich balance of activities that complement that.: art, creative play, music, and active play. Those are some things that might not be offered as much in Montessori school.

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You ask if you *can* do all you've laid out in your post. I would imagine that you most certainly could. The question then becomes *should* you do all you've laid out in your post. I think you've outlined a very, perhaps even overly, full schedule for your little ones. And, make no mistake, they are little.

 

On paper you have your kids going to school Mon through Thurs with several hours of instruction afterward *PLUS* a full day on Fri and Sat. That only leaves Sunday for some R&R -- for kids and parents.

 

The biggest mistake most new hs parents make is trying to do too much, especially with their young kids. I think what your kids are doing now is wonderful! You really don't need to add any academics, especially not a your kids' ages. Unstructured play time is so very important for proper brain development in this age bracket. Enjoy it now as the time flies so very fast. (Back in a few -- duty calls)

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For any child under the age of ten, who is in a good enough school and is learning there, your job is just to fill in any gaps, or tutor the child through any material they did not master. This process can start in first grade, particularly in math or phonics if they are not "getting it" in school or have a teacher that is using methods not effective for your child.

 

I've worked half time for the entire six years I've been homeschooling my three kids. I haven't had all three all six years, for many reasons (back to school one year, college classes, away for a year, etc.). Working and homeschooling can be done but it is difficult. Maybe it's just me, but I don't know if I could keep it up if they were already in a school-it might not get done because other activities and just plain living would seem more important when the time came. That said, you've got a few years to think about it. When I did "kindergarten" with my ds, (and he was not in a school) it took all of 30 minutes per day of a tiny bit of singapore math, learning to write letters, and OPGTR, which we easily completed in 8 months of 5-10 minutes a day.

 

I say keep thinking. In a few years you'll know more about their needs, the quality of the chosen school, your family's time management. And even the most rigorous first grade genuine TWTM curriculum doesn't really take more than 2 hours per day. Just read to them and play, as you do now! And go to the museum-my friend grew up spending hours there and it's one of a kind.

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Many thanks again for the thoughtful replies. My main internal conflict concerns which subjects I should emphasize at home.

 

I love science (I'm a neuroscientist by training) and have lucked-out with a happy pair of budding scientist/engineers (who gravitate towards rotting logs and balance scales). I would happily "do science" and read (about science, history, fiction, etc.) all day. But hands-on science/math is exactly what Montessori emphasizes already. Ditto independent reading.

 

My main question is how to balance sharing my passion for science and reading with "forcing" myself to plan a curriculum that covers subjects which do not come easily to me (grammar, music, art, foreign language).

 

Many thanks for your thoughts.

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Read, read, read, and read some more! Listen to great music, do fun art projects, field trips. Really, if they are in a good private school your job is just to supplement with the above. If you feel they are not getting a good education, find a new school.

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I'd suggest you share your strengths. FYI there is an excellent post on the Logic stage board on science:

 

science...again....someone shoot me now

 

Then, think about the areas where both you and your chosen school are weak, and address them. Hire someone, (music teacher), learn more yourself (I did this with Latin), make alternative plans.

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