We are very excited to have one of our beautiful Christian Montessori Network Facebook members guest post with us today. Weaving Montessori into everyday is a struggle for many of us and this post gives a mom’s very real look on how everyday life has a place for the Montessori method. Kathryn is a helpful supporter in our group and would love to answer your questions there.
Montessori into Everyday
I began homeschooling my daughter Kestrel in June of 2014 using the NAMC homeschool curriculum. I love order, but my primary attraction to the Montessori Method is its focus on a child-led learning process. We learn what we love. A Montessori education instills a sense of order internally and externally. Eventually.
Eager for language acquisition we began six weeks before her brother was born. We had a schedule, organization, time, and good weather. We relished those hours of quiet exploration in her final days of only childhood. Her brother, Jasper, arrived six days before her third birthday and five weeks early.
Is there a lot of order in your life with a preschooler and infant? There isn’t in mine, and I’ve come to embrace that blessing. We began “school” again when Jasper was six weeks old. My focus on new crafts and undistracted engagement waned. Kestrel’s school time makes Jasper hungry….so I began to involve her in preparing his bottle. Adding water and shaking the formula and water together were her tasks. I ditched the practical life part of the curriculum and began to weave the pertinent into our daily lives.
Discussions about boys and girls happened at diaper changes. The importance of hand washing and hygiene became more routine and important. She honed her folding skills on cloth diaper laundry. Her desire to not only help with, but to help her brother charmed me. In the adjustment to a new sibling she found her role; my job was to help her cultivate her skills and encourage her helpfulness. None of these are “chores.” She takes pride in her contributions to our home. The cats love that someone remembers to feed them. What I learned is that I often underestimate her abilities.
One day I left the baby on the couch to get something from another room. He began to fuss, and so she climbed up next to him and helped him drink from his bottle. She beamed when I came back, “I’m feeding him,” she said.
Focusing on practical life made me let go of the “what I should be doings” of her education. I am not by nature a patient person, but I find in these moments of practicality I connect the most with my daughter and with God. I often need to take a deep breath and invite the Holy Spirit into the moment. What is education if not to enable us to live lives of meaning and exploration?
We do spend time with items on our work shelves. At first Jasper distracted Kestrel. I explained that he too had work to do, and that he was responsible for that work. She practices her metal insets and learns about North America. Jasper learns to roll over and sit up. She cheers him on and teaches him to use his toys. So much of this journey as a parent and a homeschooler is to live in the process of becoming ever more human. We have to allow our children to show us that joy in life is the most practical focus of all. Sometimes we just have to get out of their way.
Kathryn Corbett lives in Rochester, NY where she homeschools her preschool daughter and juggles her infant son. She finds her spiritual nourishment in the Episcopal Church and in strong coffee. She blogs about parenting, faith, GLBT issues, gardening, adoption, and this endless winter at northofdelaware.wordpress.com.