Hello! I’m Jennifer Tammy, from Study at Home Mama. I’m so honoured and excited to be part of of the core group for Christian Montessori Network. You can read more about me here, but today I wanted to share with your a bit of a personal story about why we homeschool with Montessori.
I remember the first time another mom mentioned that she would probably homeschool her child. Both of our children were only a couple of months old and my immediate thought was, “Wow, that’s radical.”
However, once my maternal instincts kicked in a bit, and my daughter’s personality started becoming more apparent, I realized that homeschool might make the most sense for our family – which might seem slightly ironic because I’m a single mom who has to study and work full-time in order to provide for our family.
The wonderful thing about homeschooling is that it is personal and it can look different for every family, whether that be in your approach, your schedule, or who actually does the homeschooling. For our family, I’ve been lucky enough to start a home-based Montessori daycare which allows me to stay home full-time while making a full-time income, so I can give my daughter lessons, extra-curriculars, and that much-lauded socialization throughout the day. I hope this will continue to work for our family for the next few years, at which point we’ll get to create a different context for homeschooling that works for us.
In addition to sorting out the logistical side of homeschooling, I think some of the biggest hurdles are mental. Overcoming self-doubt and judgement have been huge, and I know there will also be one day when my daughter experiences that judgement, which will be a completely different challenge.
I’ve heard it all, and it’s obvious that some people think that my choice is completely unrealistic, but often those people have personalities that fit well into a school system and were lucky enough to have positive experiences within those systems. Not everyone can understand why what they enjoyed (or their children are currently enjoying) is not something you’re interested in; and really, they don’t need to understand it. Maybe one day they’ll see how my choices have positively affected my family, or the day will come when school makes sense for us, but the decision to homeschool has definitely been an experience in learning to smile and not be concerned with changing anyone else’s mind. The ways that God has blessed my family as we’ve embarked on this journey, and seeing how my daughter is flourishing is validation enough.
We’ve chosen to incorporate a mixture of unschooling and Montessori education, and we occasionally incorporate Froebel and Waldorf ideas into our day. Searching locally for used materials was at times completely fruitless, but we have slowly built up our materials to have the entire Primary curriculum and some of the Elementary materials. I’ve DIYed a few items, and purchased some brand new; however, the more that I homeschool and the more that I “Montessori,” I realize that, for me, a big part of keeping my child at home and implementing the Montessori Method is about a state of mind – not about the materials that we use.
I trust my three year old, perhaps to a fault, but when I see her open up the fridge or mull around her work room, I don’t worry about what she’s doing or think that I need to intervene. I respect that she has a learning process of her own, and any poor decisions or mistakes that may occur can be used as learning opportunity. I see my role in her education as a guide; she shows an interest, and I try to guide her to new ways of exploring or understanding that interest, and then allow her to develop her own relationship to the knowledge that she discovers and acquires. I also take the same approach to our spiritual journey; I try to be transparent in most of my own spiritual journey, and educate her in what I believe the core tenants of the New Testament to be, and my educated interpretation of the Old Testament texts, and then allow her to develop her own understanding of and relationship to God. And dare I say it? So far, so good. She’s a bright, happy child, with confidence and a love of Jesus. She initiates her own work, as well as reminding me to stop and pray often throughout the day.