Homeschool Montessori - Guide to Theory and Practice


Embed or link this publication


Sample Lesson - Typical Day in the Montessori Homeschool Environment

Popular Pages

p. 1

the typical day over the first months of the year the children become increasingly familiar with the environment and its routines the children begin to more consistently reflect what they have been learning from circle time presentations and activities while the returning children settle back into the routines they learned in their previous year because the children have a high level of choice in their activities one of the challenges for homeschooling parents in a montessori program is accommodating as much as possible the needs and abilities of all the children and at the same time setting up a daily routine that is consistent and predictable these two goals make it vital that homeschoolers spend time every day coordinating activities to ensure that the children are provided with ample opportunities to develop confidence and security within a daily rhythm where certain events consistently take place in order to coordinate daily activities each program sets up its own overall schedule tailored to the needs of the children involved as well as to the number of hours the program operates although montessori programs organize their daily schedule so that the children s work period is the focus each program s schedule will be unique there is no one right way that every program will carry out its day and each day will be as different as the evolving interests and needs of the children however each day has a structure and each day in a program will have components in common with most other days what does the typical day at this stage of the school year look like a typical day could include these components · first circle time 5­10 minutes and dismissal to work period for some this first circle time is slowly phased out and children go directly to work · work period approximately 2 uninterrupted hours where the children choose and work on learning activities · tidy-up of the learning environment 5­10 minutes · second circle time 5­10 minutes · other activities the following sections describe in more detail these various components of the typical day in minna s homeschool environment minna is a homeschooler to her three children six-yearold robert four-year-old kyle and three-year 3­6 homeschool ­ guide to theory and practice 102 © namc north american montessori center


p. 2

old tracy she also homeschools her niece and nephew rosa who is five years old and ross who is three years old weather prediction is for tomorrow and the next few days · introducing certain themes to which the children can link their work e.g a holiday a change of season · inviting a child to tell about something she/he brought to show the other children · asking whether anyone wants to talk about something first circle time and dismissal to work period once minna and the children have gathered on the circle minna turns off the classical music smiles at the children and very quietly starts to sing the hello song as soon as she sings the first few notes the children also start to sing as always in preparation for the next part of circle time minna and the children end the song with no movement and whispered lyrics during the next part of circle time minna and the children may share something as a group here are some examples of the possibilities · leading the children in creative movement such as stretching in various ways clapping rhythmically or dancing · teaching new songs and games · reading a story · talking about the life and music of the composer for that month · talking about the day of the week · using a calendar to guide the children in positioning that day s date in a particular week month and year · introducing concepts of time by discussing the weather of the day how it has changed from the weather of yesterday and what the although minna usually introduces new materials to children one at a time sometimes she introduces new materials to all of the children at circle time this particularly applies to a material that is not put out until later in the school year such as the grammar symbol for the adjective a medium dark blue triangle for example minna may say i have an interesting new material to show you it s called a grammar symbol who can tell me what shape it is and what color is it you must be wondering what it s for well some of the older children are ready to use grammar symbols to see how words work for people when they read 3­6 homeschool ­ guide to theory and practice 103 © namc north american montessori center


p. 3

and write i ll be giving a presentation with this grammar symbol later today demonstrating a material like this during circle time often sparks the interest of the children who are ready to work with the material and inspires the other children to work toward that goal each circle time minna tries to set a positive tone for the day for this reason minna avoids using circle time to discuss problems in the environment such as disruptive behavior or tasks the children are neglecting as later sections discuss minna strives to deal with specific problems in the moment as they arise with particular children at the end of circle time minna dismisses the children one by one to start their work period most of the children know which work they would like to start their day with some may go where the work mats are stored take a mat and place it on the floor then they will go to a shelf take a tray or basket of materials involved with the activity they have chosen place the tray or basket on the work mat and start working with the materials some children will go to a table to work with materials or to a particular area of the room minna takes this opportunity to invite tracy for a presentation on the flat puzzle map minna knows from her previous day s observations and notes that tracy is ready for this presentation and will likely accept her invitation with enthusiasm work period as discussed earlier the work period refers to the uninterrupted periods of time made available in a montessori program for children to work with specific learning materials of their choice in the ways for which the materials were designed a child might be working on her/his own receiving a presentation from a homeschooling parent or watching someone else but the child is engaged in a constructive way work can describe five-year-old rosa painting at an easel and it can describe ross tracing sandpaper letters it can also describe four-year-old kyle watching rosa quietly and with great interest montessori found that when concentration was at its peak a normalized child could focus on freely chosen activities for about 3 hours contemporary programs do their best to make the work period as long as possible only you will know what is an optimum amount of time for your children during the work period the children choose their own activities and homeschooling parents 3­6 homeschool ­ guide to theory and practice 104 © namc north american montessori center


p. 4

interrupt the children as little as possible and only for specific reasons · a child is being invited for a new presentation · a child asks for help · a child is wandering aimlessly or is distracting others · a child is not focusing on a constructive activity or has not put away materials properly · a child needs to problem-solve to resolve a conflict with another child as described earlier the homeschooler usually invites the children to start their work period at the end of the opening circle time and most of the children have definite ideas about the work they want to do that day this is one of the hallmarks of a montessori program that the children are usually keen to get started on their work and are free to do so in fact in some montessori programs after the children have shown that they are consistently capable of sustaining a work period of two or more hours the homeschooling parent dispenses with an opening circle and invites the children to choose a material and start his/her work period right away although the homeschooler strives not to interrupt the children during their work period sometimes she needs to convey information to all the children at once for example sometimes the children forget to use inside voices and the noise level of the room increases minna keeps a tiny bell in her pocket and rings the bell once when she wants the children to stop what they are doing immediately when the noise escalates in the room rather than using the same bell minna chooses simply to flick the lights as a signal about noise level most often the children immediately lower their voices if just one child is using a loud voice minna approaches that child and talks to him/her directly one of the important rules of a montessori environment is to avoid interrupting the homeschooling parent who is giving a presentation in most programs so that presentations are interrupted as little as possible children who want the homeschooler s help follow an agreed-upon signal for example robert wants minna s help with new work and minna is giving rosa a presentation robert approaches minna quietly stands at her side and briefly places his hand on her upper arm or shoulder he does not speak but leaves his hand on minna s arm and patiently waits until she can pause depending on robert s enquiry minna may ask robert to work on something else until she finishes the presentation as much as possible minna completes the presentation with rosa before she moves on during the work period there will be times when a child tries to interrupt a presentation or disrupt another child s work and the homeschooling parent needs to have nonintrusive strategies for handling such situations most homeschoolers use a standard phrase to remind a student about respecting someone else s work for example minna is giving a presentation to tracy when three-year-old ross 3­6 homeschool ­ guide to theory and practice 105 © namc north american montessori center


p. 5

tries to touch the materials minna says quietly but firmly i am sorry ross but you cannot interrupt our presentation you are welcome to work with these materials but you will have to wait until tracy and i have finished another strategy is gluing where the homeschooling parent keeps a child who is restless or disturbing others close by before inviting the child to choose a more suitable activity this strategy is particularly effective for children in the first stage of normalization who may occasionally find it difficult to concentrate on an activity or to resist disturbing other children if unacceptable behavior occurs a homeschooler might merely need to quietly remind the child remember this is our work period if the behavior persists the homeschooling parent might need to use the gluing strategy keeping the child close for a while then gently and calmly helping the child choose a more suitable activity gluing is also an effective strategy for the time observed by montessori and many homeschoolers usually about halfway through the work period every day when the children s noise level rises and they appear rather restless and tired some montessorians call this behavior false fatigue for most children this false fatigue does not last longer than a few minutes and many montessorians say that it seems to be part of the normal rhythm of every montessori environment most children will choose to get a snack or a drink at this time or stop one activity put it away and start another however one child might start to wander aimlessly or disturb others rather than use the strategy of sending this child outside to run off the energy which can distract and p0ssibly excite the child more than ever the homeschooling parent uses gluing gluing is used not as a punishment but as a way of helping a child refocus and observe how things are done in the learning room for example during the work period minna observes that three-year-old tracy looks restless she cannot seem to settle into anything and is starting to interrupt other children who are working minna could simply ask tracy to come and sit beside her for a while then after a short time she could ask tracy if she is ready to choose an activity making a sort of verbal contract with tracy before letting her leave her side that tracy will choose something to do and complete it this is a strategy that minna finds often works well with children however minna knows that verbal contracts are not always effective with a younger child like tracy who is not yet normalized and has not developed much self-control therefore minna may ask tracy to join her while she goes about her work tracy i see you need some time to decide which activity you want to work with come sit with me while i give this 3­6 homeschool ­ guide to theory and practice 106 © namc north american montessori center


p. 6

presentation to kyle you may watch then we will talk about what might help you choose some work in this way minna makes it clear that she not tracy will decide when tracy is ready to leave minna s side minna knows that gluing gives tracy an opportunity to have some time to refocus and to watch what other children are doing in the environment in this way tracy is still participating in the working of the learning environment just as the homeschooler invites the children to start their work period in an orderly and calm manner the homeschooling parent also looks for ways to respectfully let the children know when the work period is ending saying everyone stop now at the end of a work period would not show respect for what the children are doing and not give them time to finish what they are working on at the moment clean their work area and put their materials away properly it would also not give the children any responsibility for ending the work period on their own as with other aspects of the montessori program that are designed to help the children develop independence the goal here is for the children to learn to monitor for themselves when the work period is close to ending in the first few weeks for example minna shows the children where the clock hands will be at 11:00 at that time she tells the children the daily work period in their program ends so that the children have time to put their work away and start tidying up their environment in preparation for the closing circle time at 11:15 and the ending of the session at 11:30 to remind the children about what the clock looks like at these times and to introduce the concept of telling time minna places three paper clocks beside the real one with the hands in the 11:00 11:15 and 11:30 position in this way minna allows the children to take responsibility for organizing their own time and not depend only on her to tell them when the work period is over however to signal the time to start ending activities for the day and as a gentle reminder to all the children at 11:00 minna puts on soft classical music as part of the children s music education minna plays music by one composer each month and provides interesting information about the composer she keeps this music playing until the start of the closing circle time tidy-up of the learning environment tidying up the environment is an important part of the children s learning experience the goal is for the children to participate in maintaining their environment as a calm beautiful organized and attractive place as discussed earlier at the start of the year the homeschooler focuses on orientation activities and rules of the environment that encourage the children to return materials to their proper places and clean their work areas when they have finished an activity even when all the children are accomplishing these goals the environment may not always be tidied up in a perfect manner perhaps a learning material has been put away on the wrong shelf a scrap of paper has been left in a corner some crumbs have been left on the snack table or some paint has been splashed on a chair and not noticed 107 © namc north american montessori center 3­6 homeschool ­ guide to theory and practice


p. 7

generally each child tidies wherever he/she is at the end of the work period this could involve picking up paper or wiping paint off a chair as well as returning materials to their proper places when that area is tidy the child goes to help in another area and might start mopping the floor tucking chairs into tables or straightening books in the library this time is presented to the children as when everyone in the environment contributes in order to have a clean orderly beautiful area when they arrive the next day the homeschooling parent also participates but makes sure to take a minimal part in the tidying homeschoolers can use various strategies for helping the children notice what is out of place in their environment during tidy-up as mentioned earlier minna often plays a finding game with the children in the first few weeks of the program during circle time she asks a child to go and stand by a certain part of the room or a certain item she repeats this game every day until the children are familiar with the areas and the essential items in their learning room later in the year another strategy minna uses is inviting the children to join her in what she calls a detective walk through the various areas of the learning room during this walk minna asks the children to identify what is out of place in their environment when the children identify an item out of place minna asks for a volunteer to remedy the situation for example by returning a material to its proper place or by putting a scrap of paper into the wastebasket sometimes if minna feels that the children are not tidying up adequately she invites the children to go on the detective walk by themselves while she sits on the circle with her eyes closed then she does the walk on her own to see what she can find out of place minna finds that asking the children to do the detective walk on their own often inspires them to catch everything out of place during tidy-up time and take care of it appropriately second circle time each program will end its day in a unique way the goal is for the children to leave the environment with a positive feeling for example in minna s program after the room has been tidied up the children know that it is time to sit on the circle for the closing circle time after the first few weeks the children generally carry out tidying-up tasks quickly because they look forward to the closing circle time ritual when all the children are seated on the circle minna turns off the classical music that has been playing and smiles at the children usually there is time for a game a song or a short story then very softly minna starts to sing the 3­6 homeschool ­ guide to theory and practice 108 © namc north american montessori center


p. 8

goodbye song and the children join in as with the hello song minna and the children end the song with no movement and whispered lyrics other activities work period usually consists of these kinds of activities presentations by the homeschooling parent the children working on their own or with each other and the children preparing and eating a snack at the snack table when they wish in addition to the work period most montessori programs in the course of the typical day provide a variety of other opportunities for the children such as going outside to the play area or maintaining a garden the montessori early childhood curriculum includes art music and the love of reading and most homeschoolers incorporate library activities into each day by allocating certain times each week for such activities most programs make sure that the children are receiving sufficient time for these important learning experiences the homeschooling parent might allocate the first hour of every friday morning to a special art or music activity in which all the children participate for example this month minna and the children are learning about birds and are spending their special friday time making a huge collage about birds complete with photographs drawings cut-outs from magazines stories and decorations last month minna and the children spent this special time making a variety of drums out of everyday materials then performing as a rhythm band in view of current concerns in north america about increasing child obesity and decreasing levels of fitness among children many early childhood programs are allocating a block of time daily for physical education to make sure that all the children exercise each day at the early childhood level this can consist of jumping running hopping skipping throwing and catching and playing simple imitation games such as simon says this time will vary from program to program but is typically 10­30 minutes depending on how long the program operates each day homeschooling parents wanting to learn more about physical education activities for the early years might consider ordering supporting physical development and physical education in the early years by jonathan doherty this excellent book is often available in used condition online 3­6 homeschool ­ guide to theory and practice 109 © namc north american montessori center



no comments yet