Recently, I shared with you why I love the Montessori method and why we’ve decided to give our children a Montessori preschool education. Today, I’ll share with you why we’ve decided to do Montessori preschool at home, specifically. Every family is unique and has different situations, so I’m not prescribing what we’ve chosen for anyone. But, I thought it might be helpful to share where we are if you’re also starting to think about the possibility of Montessori education, especially at home.
Throughout high school and college, I tutored and student-taught in a number of mainstream elementary school classrooms and in each of them, I saw opportunities for the Montessori method to help children grasp difficult concepts and to deepen their understandings of and love for their subjects. I wished that I better understood the method to teach it and I dreamed that one day, I might become a Montessori-trained teacher working at a non-Montessori school. I hoped to integrate the Montessori concepts that I love into mainstream education.
I first considered potentially fulfilling that desire in how I instruct my own children when I was pregnant with Beach Girl and heard of the Montessori at Home movement. Thanks to this movement, Montessori curriculum, materials, and general information are available for parents who want to pursue Montessori education at home. Doing it myself seemed like it could be possible.
When a MOPS talk sparked my interest in Montessori education again almost two years ago, I began to read up on the method, hoping to integrate some basic Montessori principles into our home life as I taught Beach Girl things like how to get herself dressed or to help in the kitchen.
The more I read, the more I realized that my parenting already was very “Montessori”. Thanks to my own Montessori education and my family’s heavy Montessori influences (my siblings and I went to a combined 24 years of Montessori schools!), my natural parenting style is deeply influenced by Montessori principles. Montessori preschool seemed like the next logical step for our family.
When Beach Dad and I started to explore options for preschool, we learned that 6 years of preschool at our local Montessori school (3 years for each of our 2 daughters) would cost over $40,000! As much as I love the Montessori method, that’s definitely not in our budget, so we began to think through other options.
It seemed like homeschooling Montessori preschool could be the best fit, but in spite of how I excited I was at the idea of it, I felt nervous about signing up for that. For awhile now, I’ve felt like I need to build a parenting break into my week and signing up to homeschool preschool (instead of signing up for another preschool) honestly felt like more than I could handle.
Finally, we decided that we would homeschool using the Montessori method for their primary schooling, but that we would find a way to give me a break in the week as well.
We found a local preschool where both girls will go one morning a week and I will have a break at home. They’ll have the added benefits of being taught by someone else and of playing with their peers, and I’ll have a few hours a week when I will be able to take a break from parenting. I’m excited at the time I’ll have to recharge while they’re away so I can be a better parent (and teacher) the rest of the week. And, the prospect of teaching preschool at home feels a lot less daunting knowing I’ll also have that break in my week.
So, I’m really excited about our setup for this school year, and I still feel pretty overwhelmed. Someday, I’ll tell you more about my thoughts on homeschooling and my journey to accepting it for my family, but for now, suffice to say, I never planned to homeschool my own children. I still don’t know that we will long-term, but both Beach Dad and I are more open to it than before and, for now, actually feel a strong calling to do so – for preschool, at least.
There are many days when things are getting tough and, as I just want to retreat into my introverted shell, I ask myself, “Should I really be homeschooling? Wouldn’t we all be better off if I sent them to school every day next year?” But, even in those strung-out, doubting moments, I feel a sense of assurance that this is what we should be doing at this point.
Since this is only preschool (and many children don’t even go to preschool), I feel a freedom to experiment and find what works for our family — and even to see if homeschooling itself is a good option for our family or not.
Meanwhile, I’m working out details of how we want to do this – at least to start. I’m learning how to set up a Montessori “classroom” at home and strategizing about how to give Beach Girl space to work without Beach Baby interrupting. I’m planning our days to find a balance that allows for full child development. I’m hoping for plenty of intentional, instructional time and run-around-be-a-kid time. And, amidst the logistics, I’m getting more and more excited about all the things we’ll get to explore and discover together this year.
I’ve loved the chance to learn alongside Beach Girl and Beach Baby already and I think more intentional time to teach and learn with Beach Girl (and Beach Baby) in preschool this year is going to be valuable and fun for all of us!
I plan to share our activities and what I’m learning here at this blog, so I hope you’ll join me. Even if you’re not planning to pursue Montessori education or to homeschool, I hope that – as always – you’ll find activities and ideas that are not only fun and educational for your children, but also doable for you as a busy mom.