I'm Elisabeth, I was a Montessori child almost 30 years ago (at Chesapeake Montessori in Annapolis, MD USA). I teach "C" my 6 (almost 7) year old daughter full time, she's in her second year of lower elementary. My other children are 5 and 2 and occasionally join us in the schoolroom (they are in preschool otherwise). I blog at https://mchomeschoolblog.
wordpress.com/ and can also be found on Instagram @mchomeschool .
Our homeschool space is a landing at the top of the stairs on the second floor of our home. It's an extremely personal choice for homeschoolers whether they want a separate "school only" area or for it to be integrated into their home. For our family, we like having the dedicated space because it helps us delineate school time as different from the rest of our time; we do have "school rules" that we wrote together and the expectations for behavior are different in our school space than in the rest of the house. An example of a different rule is that in our play space (really the rest of the house), anything is "fair game" to grab and play; in our school room, you must have a lesson on a material before you begin using it.
A question I'm often asked is why I only homeschool my eldest child and the answer is time. I work part-time and only have about 2-3 hours/day to do school. I tried (and failed) to do school across all age groups in that short amount of time and it just did not work for us. Thus, my other children go to a play-based preschool nearby. I say this because I want parents to know that you can start your child in Montessori at age 5-6 (even in a homeschool!), even if your child didn't go to a Montessori preschool. The normalization process looked a little different for us but now 18 months in, we are having a wonderful time. It is never too late to follow the child!
Please pick one of your shelves and tell us what is on it. How is it arranged? What are your children liking doing off this shelf?
Currently, our most popular shelf is our science shelf. On this shelf, we have our rock cycle diagram, science journals and sketchbooks, and our balance. We covered the rock cycle a few months ago during Great Lesson 1 but we are revisiting because we are learning about the water cycle now. I made the original rock cycle diagram/"pinning" work and I'm going to encourage her to create her own version for the water and nitrogen cycles. Once she perfects her diagram, we will copy it and she can use it for future pinning work.
Tell us about another shelf
Our math shelf is also currently a favorite although it's not the most visually exciting! Unlike in primary, the materials are not displayed "open" for the children so it's basically just a series of closed boxes. Currently, the checkerboard is a big favorite as she finishes up her work with that material. We have a quilted checkerboard instead of the wooden one because of space constraints in a homeschool.
What is your favourite thing about your classroom and/or what is your favourite thing on the shelves at the moment?
I love our windows and our low couch; this reading area is very cozy and we often sit together with our history read-alouds or encyclopedias open on our laps. I love that I often find all 3 of my children there cuddled up looking at books.
What are some challenges about your classroom?
Like most homeschoolers, I struggle with having enough space to have our materials out and accessible. One example is our bead "cabinet", it is mounted on the wall because we don't have room for a large cabinet but it's also too high for the children to reach it easily because we also needed to utilize the space under it (which houses primary reading materials for my 5 year old). This is ok for us because I'm always available to help get the material down and help her. It's not ideal but a good tradeoff in our space.
I am challenged to think about how to have enough things out and keep our space neat. I find that materials often "migrate" out of storage for a few weeks before we need to put some things back. I've tried to turn this into a discussion with my daughter so that she helps me make the choices over what things to keep on our shelves. We meet and discuss the upcoming week each week so I show her my plan, she gives feedback and we modify based on her feedback, and then we can determine what things need to be put away temporarily.
To see more classrooms in our classroom tour series click here
How have you changed your classroom in the last year?
Last year, she started the school year (in Sept like all US schools) and was 5.5 years old. She was definitely transitioning to the second plane but was not entirely there yet. So last year, I had fewer things on the shelves and had them more "displayed" like in primary with all the associated materials grouped together on the shelf. As she's moved more and more to the second plane, I've been able to group materials in a more compact way because she knows where to find things and how to gather materials from multiple spots as needed. For example, last week during our Egyptian history lesson, she went and retrieved our atlas and our protractor when they mentioned learning measurement to measure the land beside the Nile River.
To read more about a typical day in our class click through to our blog here
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