What is Montessori
Should I buy Montessori Materials?
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What is Montessori?

Should I buy Montessori Materials?

Here is an explanation of the main areas of materials in a Montessori class, from age 1 through high school. And advice on what is appropriate for homeschooling.

SENSORIAL MATERIALS: The "didactic" or Montessori materials first used over 100 years ago in the original casa dei bambini are today called the sensorial materials. They help a child isolate a concept received through the senses, such as color, temperature, taste, size, weight, sound, and so forth. These materials are made to last many years and to be handled daily by many children so they are very expensive. In a home it is better to help children become aware of their senses and the corresponding concepts casually in daily life experiences and then give correct vocabulary such as "hot," "cold," "warm," "tepid," and all of the detailed sensorial labels.

PRACTICAL LIFE MATERIALS: These are child-size, real tools, that reflect the work that is done in the child's own unique home and community—bathing, sweeping, setting a table, arranging flowers, woodwork, everything done in a home. They allow the child to imitate the activities of those around them. they are considered by many to be the most important materials because their use fosters a good self-image, long periods of concentration, logical thinking, good physical balance and coordination, eye-hand control, problem solving, love of work, the ability to contribute to the family, independence in caring for oneself and others and the environment, and developing good manners. In fact, all of the skills needed for academic success later, and happiness as an adult. We do not recommend buying generic practical life sets, but rather creating activities with materials found in one's own family, country, or area, materials that reflect the values and work of a child's unique environment.

Ideas for the kinds of things to look for can be found here: tools for children

ACADEMIC SUBJECT MATERIALS: When a child has a good foundation in awareness of senses, and some mastery of practical life work, he will be able to more easily focus on mastering areas of academic studies such as reading, writing, math, geometry, physical and life sciences, history and geography, and the arts. In Montessori classes the child is inspired by seeing others working in all areas in the classroom at one time, and he or she is offered individual lessons in all areas by the teacher, and then the child's choice is respected about what to study. In the home it is important for the child to see adults modeling a love of learning and work, reading non-fiction and good fiction, being curious, handwriting, loving their own learning. The home should have materials and books in all subjects according to the age of the child or children and they should be offered in an attitude of fun. Again, the best source of these items that we know of in the USA is: Montessori materials

AGE 0-3:

At what age does homeschooling start?
At first we were very surprised to get letters from parents of children of one or two years of age who were asking for advice on homeschooling. Then we realized that this was the very best time to start using Montessori ideas in the home.
Preparing the Environment
The First Year
The Second Year - Working with My Family
The Second Year - Toys
The Second Year - Music, Art and Language

AGE 3-6:
Can I use Montessori ideas at home with my child?

Yes, you can use Montessori principles of child development and education at home. Look at your home through your child's eyes. Children need a sense of belonging and of being needed. They get it by participating fully in the routines of everyday life. "Help me do it by myself" is the life theme of the preschooler. Can you find ways for your child to participate in meal preparation, cleaning, gardening, caring for clothes, shoes, and toys? Providing opportunities for independence is the surest way to build your child's self-esteem. In Montessori 3-6 classes around the world it is this practical life element that builds habits of thinking logically, making intelligent decisions, following complex steps of complex processes, care in actions, and so forth, that prepare for a life of independent thinking and responsible action, and care for self, others, and the world. It is often the major area of work in the whole first year of the child's experience in a Montessori class. The Montessori 3-6 environment is filled with cultural, artistic, scientific activities and materials and books. There is no junk food, no television, no computer. Books, toys, and other educational materials are carefully chosen and of the best quality. The child is never forced to attend a lesson or do a piece of work. The teacher is trained to model kindness and consideration, to observe the child and follow her interests in suggesting work, to give careful, individual lessons,to keep exacting records of what the child is learning and where his interests are leading him, and to refrain from interrupting when the child is concentrating on an activity. Much of this can be created in the home.

AGE 6-18:
What Montessori ideas can I use for school age children?

There are many varieties of homeschooling. Some people try to imitate the traditional school model buy following a strict schedule of school hours, using desks, etc. We fear that this turns a child off as much as going to school. It also separates "learning" from "living". This model is NOT Montessori homeschooling.In a Montessori class, aside from a small percentage of time dedicated to covering the required school subjects (2 hours a a week average) the child is introduced, one-to-one, to activities with which he or she will discover the excitement of learning in all areas, and how all areas are related to each other. The teacher teaches the child, just as in the 3-6 class, how to learn from the environment, but in this case the wider world. The student is grabbed by an interest and taught how to do research, contact specialists, invite expert guests to the class, go out into the immediate neighborhood and the larger community to interview and research. During the class hours his time is his own, uninterrupted by adult-imposed schedules and required attendance at group lessons or listening daily to someone talk. Homework is never required in the Montessori class, but children often carry their interests and research into the evenings and week-ends, and thus learning is combined with living.All of these wonderful elements of Montessori education are available to the homeschooled student.

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