A few of you have asked why I haven't set up a Montessori curriculum for my sons this year as I started homeschooling them. While I understand why you're curious, it surprised me a bit because I honestly hadn't thought about the fact that I wasn't using a Montessori curriculum for them. After it was brought to my attention, I was forced to reflect on why I hadn't set up our homeschool environment in a "Montessori" way. So I'll do my best to put my thoughts about that into writing here. Please don't hesitate to email me or leave a comment if you'd like. I love getting comments!
OK, first of all, my Montessori training is for 3-6 year olds and that is the curriculum I'm most comfortable with in regard to Montessori education. I can assure you that if I'd started homeschooling back when they were in preschool or younger, our "schoolroom" would have had a definite Montessori vibe with open shelves and materials from which they could self-select. That said, I don't have the training in Montessori Elementary education. I have thought about getting it in the past, but it just hasn't been feasible from either a financial or time-commitment standpoint.
Next, my oldest son (who is turning 10 soon) attended a private Montessori elementary for first and second grade. It was a wonderful school and I feel he got a great introduction and exposure to the key elements of a Montessori elementary education. If he were attending a Montessori school this fall, he'd be in the 9-12 year old class.......and that is definitely out of my realm of expertise when it comes to Montessori training. I think Montessori is a wonderful model, even at the older age levels. I just don't feel that I could replicate it in a homeschool setting. As I researched homeschool curricula almost obsessively last winter, I wasn't able to come up with a resource for "doing" Montessori with upper elementary children in a home setting. If any of you have any suggestions or references for something like this, I'd be thrilled to take a look!
From the little I know about Montessori education at the elementary level, I know that there is a great deal of emphasis placed on non-fiction reading and reading for research purposes. While I believe these to be very valid and necessary goals for children, my oldest son excels in this area and would spend all his time reading non-fiction or for research if given the choice. Reading and understanding fiction at a higher reading level is an area that I felt I needed to focus on with him this year. So when I chose our main curriculum (A World of Adventure by Learning Adventures), I was looking for something that had literature at its core and which tied in the history and science with the literature components. In many ways, I can see that the structure of AWOA actually closely matches what I can imagine would be emphasized in an upper-elementary Montessori setting: lots of content reading from "real books", learning history in chronological order, and hands-on projects to reinforce concepts.
Finally, I think one of the basic tenets that characterizes Montessori education is to "follow the child". This, more than any material or exercise, is what I believe to be the essential message of Maria Montessori. Given that, I will definitely be implementing a "follow the child" philosophy in our homeschool setting as I try to build on my children's interests and strengths while simultaneously matching my support and encouragement to their areas of need or struggle.
I truly appreciate being asked this question. It has been very thought-provoking and reflective for me to ponder. And I hope I've adequately explained my reasoning for choosing the path I've chosen. If any of you are using a Montessori approach with your older children, I would really love to hear about it!! I love how blogging connects people of similar interests and allows us to learn from each other.