A tour of Bree's Homeschool Classroom
Hi! I’m Bree, my husband and I were both homeschooled through grade 12, and are now homeschooling our three kids, ages 6, 4, and nearly 2. I fell in love with Montessori pedagogy after being introduced to it by a friend in 2014. It resonated with what we wanted for our family, and felt so natural (not that there aren't learning curves!), that we’ve been learning and growing in the method ever since. While homeschooling our kids will always be our main focus, I also co-teach a class of 20 kids, once a week, at our homeschool co-op. We are also set to open what will be the only Montessori school in our city by Fall 2019. So my class of 3 is about to grow considerably!
If you’d like to follow us at home, you can find us on Instagram @kindlingkids_montessori or you can watch our school take shape @ponderosamontessori
Tell us a bit about one of the shelves in your class
Here’s a snapshot of the largest shelf in our room which holds all of our language work, unit studies, and practical life trays. The vast majority of our practical life work is done all throughout the day, in all areas of the home. This is simply here for when the kids need the grounding that only practical life can bring, and we’re all the way upstairs in our school room.
Our language shelves are loosely organized by the sequence they’re introduced, but it’s also a matter of what is practical for our family. Having grammar symbols, for example, at my 2 year old's level would mean a lot of clean up. This exploration is of course okay, but it’s caused a bit of distraction in times past; so we keep them near our language objects instead. Even though this wouldn’t be “correct” for a classroom, it’s what meets our current needs.
My 6 year old daughter is passionate about grammar work lately and chooses it daily. Word study cards have also been a recent discovery that she’s enjoying.
My 4 year old son’s favorites are easily the command cards, and word/nonsense word, card sort. He has also exploded into writing which has been such a joy to watch! Dressing frames and clay are also things he reaches for regularly.
The other main shelf in our space is designated to math. Next to it is a small shelf with work that is specific to my toddler. It is, again, organized by what is practical for our family, though it has a stronger sense of sequence than the shelf just shown. My son really enjoys the golden bead material, using it to build large numbers, practice exchanging, and recording the numerals in his notebook.
My daughter has been keeping me on my toes as she speeds through the math presentations! It’s been my greatest challenge to keep up, and we’re about to purchase more advanced materials for her. Lately she can’t stop working on dynamic equations with large numbers, using just pencil and paper as she pushes the materials aside. She has been making her transition into the second plane quite clear! Finding perimeters, skip counting, recognizing number patterns, and communicative law has also been of interest to her.
What is your favourite thing about your classroom and/or what is your favourite thing on the shelves at the moment?
If I had to personally choose a favorite material, at this moment, it would have to be the art cards we use with our grammar work. Pairing the two is such a fun way to study the beauty of art while constructing sentences about what is observed. I really see the purpose of grammar come to life in this work, and love getting a peek into the way my kids view each piece of art. My favorite part of our classroom as a whole is the order. Having everything in its place brings me peace when the rest of the house is.... A work in progress...
What are some challenges about your classroom?
Oh the challenges! There are a few big ones that come to mind. Meeting the needs of my toddler, while my older two maintain their concentration, is the most difficult to balance. This of course, is just a phase, but it sure seems like a long one some days! I’m constantly reminding myself that our aim is to educate the whole child, and these disruptions can be used to build character and deepen our relationships.
Even if that means we have to put a new academic lesson on hold for the day, we've still learned a whole lot of grace and courtesy!
The other greatest challenge we face is that our schoolroom is upstairs, and separated from the rest of our home. This may not seem like a problem, but as homeschoolers, we have no set hours, and we’re learning all day long! I always find myself saying “hold that thought!” as I sprint up two flights of stairs, retrieving materials that will better answer the questions they have asked over lunch. Having our classroom in the heart of our home is something I miss!
How have you changed your classroom in the last year?
Our classroom has gone through huge changes this last year. We moved from a 800sq ft home where my husband and I transformed the living room into our work area. Since then, we’ve doubled our living space. This has allowed us to have a separate school room, but I miss having everything at arms reach, in the same space that we spent most of our time. Though no matter where our materials are stored, the world is our school, and we explore as many real life experiences as the days allow! This year I really worked on a huge part of the Montessori classroom, which is the preparation of the guide. I put a lot of energy into honing in on our goals, core values, and observing what made a successful day for us, at this stage of life. Our aim is not to create an exact replica of a Montessori environment at home, no matter how alluring that may seem! But rather to focus on following the guiding principles of the philosophy. Adapting our rhythms as our children move through each plane of development, and the seasons of life give way into the next. Sometimes this means we do things a bit unconventionally, but homeschooling has allowed us to follow the child to a whole new level.
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