Tag Archives: Homeschool

Homeschool Manifesto: Introduction

Homeschool Manifesto BannerThe following are the principles I came up with that guided my responses to the questions that make up the bulk of my “manifesto”.

  • I believe that my daughter is a capable and intelligent person. I respect her as independent and strong. She has her own preferences, desires, thoughts, priorities, and opinions.
  • It is incumbent upon me to support her independence and abilities. I will include her as a full member of our household, as she demonstrates that she is ready and willing. I will teach her how to care for herself, for her environments, and for her education.
  • My daughter needs only to learn to love learning. She needs only the ability to engage with the world as a curious and responsible citizen.
  • I believe I am her first and best teacher. While I will act explicitly as her instructor, I will also lead by example.
  • I will encourage her to be human and accepting of her faults and strengths as well as those of others. I will encourage her to be kind, generous, giving, thoughtful, logical, reasonable, gentle, and interested in the world. I will expose her to the world and encourage her to explore and experience it.
  • I will love her unconditionally and give her a safe place to discover and express who she is and what she believes. I will encourage her to lead a full life with all the pain, joy, suffering, excitement, embarrassment, and beauty that a full life can hold.
  • I will continue in my own quest for knowledge of the best ways to help my daughter. I will explore pedagogy, parenting, and education. I will also continue to indulge my own interests and academic pursuits in an effort to set an example for her.
  • I will consciously and conscientiously raise her to her full potential.

Homeschool Manifesto: Preface

Homeschool Manifesto BannerIf you read my recent post on Reflection you will know that I have been working on laying out my thoughts about homeschooling and our decision to keep our daughter home. I’ve spent the last couple weeks agonizing over committing my opinions about it all to paper. It was a really difficult task (and one I put off more than once), but I knew that was exactly why I needed to sit down and make myself do it.┬áIn it I use a Q&A format to cover my ideas in addition to a little manifesto of sorts as an introduction. Instead of one long post, I thought I would break it up into parts.

The whole process, though, really struck me as almost absurd. Because, you know what? I never saw myself as one of those parents that would want to homeschool. I don’t think it had a lot to do with stereotypes of homeschooling families, although I’m sure those colored my feelings about the concept. I just always saw myself as needing and wanting to work. I like my chosen profession and I’ve invested a lot of money and years in gaining the education and experience I need to build a career. And in a lot ways I do still want to work and invest in that career. I think I have a lot to offer the library community.

But the funny thing about parenting is how off guard my feelings about it caught me. My first surprise came in the hospital after giving birth. I was so surprised how perfectly suited to the job of being a mother I felt. Intellectually I knew it would be rewarding, but I had never felt so prepared to take on something so unpredictable and mysterious as motherhood.

Before I got married my best friend, a new mother, was talking about becoming a parent. I distinctly remember her telling me how she felt like a hollow shell. I thought that sounded awful, but it turned out she was right, if not also a little overwrought. I realized she didn’t mean she felt consumed by her child. She just meant that her son is what she is giving to the world. She won’t change the world at this point, but her child might. That means she wants to ensure she does the best job she can raising him and that might entail making some sacrifices on her part.

And that’s the crux of it for me. My daughter is what will survive me, nothing else. Cam is what matters more than my career and my own ambition to offer something to the library community and beyond. I don’t think every mother will or should feel this way. It’s just how I feel. That is what has surprised me the most about myself and motherhood, because I didn’t know I was one of those mothers.

 

Reflection

Homeschool Manifesto BannerA recent conversation about homeschooling with one of our friends has led me to do some reflecting. The conversation made me realize not only that I was still on the fence about committing to homeschooling but that, if I was going to, I needed to clearly articulate why.

After a lot of thought and discussion, my husband and I decided our tentative plan would be to homeschool after one year in the preschool at the school where my husband is employed. (I would just like to thank my husband here for being understanding and willing to follow my lead.) I love their program and the teachers and I think being in a classroom with other children will be good for Cam. Even with that plan in place, though, I felt that I needed to go further and really commit my ideas about homeschooling and education to paper. The following is a list of ideas I want included in my manifesto (of sorts):

  • The big question: Why homeschooling?
  • In light of my research on the Reggio Emilia approach, I want to articulate how I define Cam as a child which should include qualities and values.
  • I need to state our values as a family and as a community (or at least, as part of a community). Values I want Cam to internalize.
  • What kind of learning outcomes do I want her to have?
  • What is my educational philosophy? Meaning not how I teach, but what I believe about education.

I’m going to be working on this document this week. Obviously it isn’t something I would distribute to some one who asked about why we will homeschool (although that would be pretty amusing), I will share it here. Mostly I need to internalize these thoughts and ideas so I can refer to them when we get questions.

Resources Series: Free Printables and Downloads

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There are a lot of free Montessori materials out there and really this is just an extension of the previous post in the series. However, many of the links below are to sites that sell materials but also have a freebie page. I was just trying to collect the links in one place with other free resources.

Free Printables/Downloads

The Helpful Garden is amazing. The author of this blog is a Montessori teacher and she puts together free printable nomenclature cards, activities, etc. They are all very beautifully done, an issue I have with some of the other printables out there. There are a lot available and she is even beginning to use D’Nealian script on some of them.

Montessori for Everyone offers some free downloads in various areas of study.

Maitri Learning also has some free materials which include some audio files that are lectures on the theory behind portions of the Montessori Method.

Montessori Print Shop has a monthly free printable. I like the majority of their products and I’ve just gone through and downloaded them all (the free ones, not the ones that cost).

3 Dinosaurs offers a lot of free printables. She has even grouped them into themed packs which I find helpful.

Resources Series: Classroom Materials and Presentation

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There are a lot of resources out there for classroom materials, many of them can be found on blogs or on Pinterest. Here are a few I have looked at.

Classroom Materials

Montessori for Everyone has lots of printable materials. They do cost though. For a link to their free printables see below.

I came across a woman who does videos on eHow that show how to present various lessons. I’m not sure I need to be shown how to tell my daughter what a cylinder is, but I can see these becoming very helpful when presenting unfamiliar activities (pink tower, for example).

Montessori Outlet makes beautiful Montessori furniture and lesson supplies. I was really put off by how expensive some (most) of the Montessori equipment can be. Montessori Outlet is actually a reasonably priced company. It isn’t cheap and it doesn’t have loads of stuff, but it isn’t the sky high prices I have seen in other places. I intend to invest in some of the more difficult to make items like knobbed cylinders.

Updated 12/4/2012: There is a great suite of apps for the iPad, if you are inclined to use technology. It’s pretty ubiquitous at our house, so I like the idea of working it into our curriculum. There are four different apps, each of which costs about $4, that focus on geography, math, letters, and spelling. You can see the Montessorium website here to read more. Thanks to my friend’s husband for alerting me to this. And possibly my own husband, but I’m not sure. Sometimes my mommy-brain gets the best of me.

Updated 4/29/2013: I have found several more websites that sell a variety of Montessori and Montessori-style materials. I have even ordered from Kid Advance. Not only was shipping very speedy, the products are beautiful and were extremely reasonably priced.

Kid Advance

Adena Montessori

Grandpa’s Montessori

A+ Montessori

Resources Series: Scope and Sequence

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I should say that when I think scope and sequence I think of a list of skills or pieces of knowledge that are written out in the chronological order they need to be learned in. Each skill is then broken down into a list of either smaller skills and tasks that need to be completed to gain mastery of the larger skill. In other words, a scope and sequence is a little more dynamic than a checklist. I have yet to really find one I am satisfied with, although David Gettman’s book Basic Montessori gets close as does the one available through The Helpful Garden. That isn’t to say they aren’t out there. I just have yet to find one. Although my hope is really to use these to create my own.

Scope and Sequence

The Helpful Garden has a very good scope and sequence. I personally would like to combine it with more information though.

Montessori for Everyone sells comprehensive lists that are checklists grouped by area of study. They cover skills and activities for a set age group. It isn’t exactly a scope and sequence since it isn’t more detailed about the skills, but all in all it’s extremely helpful and does the trick. They do cost and a couple seem a bit pricey for what they are, but not unreasonable.

Maitri Learning offers some free sequence and order lists for practical life, sensorial, math and language arts for the 3-6 set. They are very nice.

Montessori Teachers Collective also has an album of activities and the categories they fall under. They call them teacher’s albums and they are, but I am using the beginning list, or table of contents, more as a scope and sequence. I didn’t find them to be the most complete teacher’s album out there so I hadn’t intended to use them as such. They also have a scope and sequence and I thought the two together were much more helpful than when apart.

Update 11/2/2014: I found a site this morning that has a scope and sequence of sorts, although it isn’t complete by any means. The real strength of it lies in that it shows a picture of the activity with brief, simple instructions on how to DIY it (or just buy it, if that’s easier). Check out Montessori Homeschool (MontHome).

Update 2/1/2015: Montessori Compass offers a scope and sequence that is even linked up with Common Core Standards. It’s a paid service and is really designed for the classroom teacher, but it looks pretty comprehensive and useful. 

 

Resources Series: Teacher’s Manuals

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Here is Part One of the Resources Series. Hopefully you find something you need. I would also like to encourage you to post your favorite source for teacher’s manuals if you do not see it on the list.

Updated 2/1/2015: I recently read a really great blog post from a Montessori teacher on her blog Montessori 101 where she discusses what teacher albums are supposed to be and why we probably shouldn’t buy them. I agree with her mostly, although as a someone who wants some idea of what I’m doing the idea of the albums is appealing. I’ve said it before, but I have yet to find a Montessori book that breaks down the activities, their sequence, what they are, and what they are teaching. There are tons of blogs out there that have “Montessori” activities, but most of them are themed variations of the same four or five “Montessori” activities, like three-part cards and counters with cards. This is why the teacher’s manuals are so appealing to me, in theory, they should help you grasp the method as a whole and give you a sense of the entire curriculum. However, Aubrey makes some excellent points. I suggest reading her post and her subsequent posts about making your own that I will link to here and using that in your decision about whether or not to purchase one.  Make Your Own Albums 1

Teacher’s Manuals

Montessori Primary Guide is a free online resource that walks you through various aspects of the Montessori curriculum. It gives you foundational knowledge for each area (practical life, math, etc.) and then gives you activities with detailed instructions on how to do them in each section. They also have videos.

Shu Chen Jenny Yen’s Online Montessori Guides is similar to the Montessori Primary Guide. She has pedagogy and activities. These are really nice and are free!

Montessori Print Shop has teachers manual’s for practical lifesensoriallanguage arts, and math. You can buy them separately or as a bundle. The manuals are based on AMI principles and concepts. One nice thing about these is that they are essentially eBook versions. Instant Montessori gratification. :) They are not free, but the cost seems reasonable. These are only for primary ages (2.5-6).

Montessori Research and Development also publishes teacher’s manuals. There are some sample pages available for viewing before buying. Again, they aren’t free, but the price seems reasonable. For me, the most important thing here is that there is a manual for the 0-2.5 set. While I feel ill prepared to follow the Montessori Method in the primary years I feel even less confident that I am “doing it right” currently. These manuals were developed and written by several certified Montessori teachers and child development experts, another plus in my book.

Montessori at Home! is an awesome eBook with the Montessori Method adapted to the home environment. It’s easy to follow and there are lots of activities. Plus it has some pedagogy and history. It’s not free, but again it isn’t unreasonably priced. And if you buy it through Montessori Print Shop you have the option of purchasing it bundled with the printable materials you will need for the activities.

 

Resources Series: Intro

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After my post last week I spent some time this week focusing on researching Montessori scope and sequences. In the process I stumbled across several excellent resources for teacher’s manuals, products, free printables, scope and sequences, and more. I thought for my own sake, as well as anyone else looking for some guidance, I would create an annotated bibliography of sorts. I figured to make it more manageable I would break it up into a series of posts each one with a different type of resource. The list is by no means exhaustive and if you have a favorite resource feel free to post it in the comments. I am especially glad to have found the teacher resources as that is the area where I feel least prepared to follow Montessori principles.

Obviously I haven’t actually put all of the resources into practice or even read each material cover to cover, so I can’t give them ringing personal endorsements. However I think if you are looking for places to find information these would be good places to start and would be worth taking the time to see if you are interested. If nothing else, it may give you peace of mind that there are materials out there to help you.