I love the concept of homeschooling. Particularly surprising to me, as I spent 8 years as a public education teacher. Even so, I fell in love with this idea when my son was an infant. I learned how Montessori helps very small children and we both naturally took to the task set up and structure.
Having said that, we certainly do NOT do everything Montessori, and there are many days when I feel less than successful as a homeschooling parent. It’s a big responsibility, right?
I do it for two main reasons:
1. Because I believe it is the best fit for my son. I think of homeschooling as a real privilege I can provide for him that will allow for extraordinary life opportunities. Seeing Rodan art during the week at our local museum. Having loads of nature and play time. Being closely connected with mom and dad. Adapting to his learning style. All good stuff.
2. Because for us, it is part of living beyond of the ‘norm’. I’m all about creating a life without limits, an extraordinary life you truly love. For us, this means freedom and flexibility. Make your vision, and know that you can have, do and be what you truly want.
**We take homeschooling on a year-by-year basis. I’ll never say we won’t do traditional school. Just for now, this works best for our family.
If homeschooling seems daunting or un-doable, I hear you. I really do. If you’ve been homeschooling already for years, I’m sure you could teach me a few things. 🙂
What I’ve done in this blog post is attempt to give you a little window into how we do things part of the day here at home. I love creating simple little tasks, and my son has loved it forever. He often requests to do ‘work’. Here’s a few photo suggestions for pre-school/elementary age homeschoolers.
Part of the idea of Montessori tasks is to provide structure and simplicity. Here, I’ve taken only 6 pieces from a total box set of nuts and bolts and separated them.
I show my son how to do it once. After that, he does the next on his own. After he is done, he puts the task back on the shelf. The next time he wants to do it, he will be able to do it by himself.
The structure makes it clear visually, and limits the overwhelm of tons of mixed up pieces to sort through. The objective becomes easier to focus on – learning how to screw the bolt on. He loved this one.
This task is supporting his current learning of counting by 5’s. Honestly, my son learned to count by 5’s to 50 from watching PBS’s Peg Plus Cat. Here, I’m just reinforcing it plus adding the practice of going all the way to 100.
It’s wise to practice only one skill at a time. So, if he had trouble using clothespins, I’d make a clothespin only task (which I did when he was younger). Since I know he’s proficient at clipping them now, I can use these manipulatives to practice another skill, counting.
This is just a simple activity where he has to sort by color and order them from shortest to tallest. He does this activity fairly quickly, but he enjoys it. I think the small blocks feel good in his hands, and he feels very successful with this.
These materials could also be used for other tasks such as patterns.
Just some basic painting fun. 🙂
More Montessori task ideas for 5 year olds…
Here’s a simple cutting activity that Ben really loves. He’s done this one off and on for ages. He simply cuts the lines that I’ve drawn on index paper. There’s a small trash can to his right (think of: we read left to right, tasks should be ordered from left to right), and his completed work goes in the right-hand side of the tray. Super easy to create. Kept him focused for 10-15 minutes.
This is one of my favorites. We’ve had this activity in various forms, around the house for years. The cutter is safe (not sharp at all) and the set up is simple. Plus, the reward is fresh strawberries!
Again, working from left to right, I’ve provided strawberries I’ve washed. Ben cuts the stem off on the cutting board and places it in the ‘discard’ bowl. The other pieces get chopped into bite-sized pieces and go into the bowl on the right. Easy. Try this with carrots, broccoli, apple, etc.
Another favorite (but messy) activity that Ben loves (not pictured here) is playing with shaving cream. I used to do this one with my students back when I taught. We’d spread shaving cream on the desks and play copycat. I’d do writing instruction reinforcement (such as starting letters at the top – not the bottom).
After he’s practiced about 10 letters, he’s free to play. It’s a great sensory experience and is surprising easy to clean up. However – I always send Ben straight to the bath after this play-time. So, it tends to be in the evening and sporadically.
Montessori-type work tasks are a nice way to enhance or even focus your homeschooling activities. Pre-school and elementary school activities lend themselves nicely to this way of structuring. As he gets older, we’ll see what new learning awaits us.
Have a homeschooling activity you love? Share it here 🙂
One of the books that got me started. 🙂