Saturday, 16 June 2012

Handmade Montessori

making sandpaper letters

In the last month or so, since this idea of homeschooling came back in our discussions, I have been thinking about the how.  How am I going to homeschool?  What do I want my days to look like?  And most of all, how do my child (X in this case) learn?  It is important for me to make sure our learning style fits my son's need, but also mine.  I want the both of us to be interested, to make sure we have a fulfilling year.

Well, ok, yes, Montessori kinda came to mind as being the obvious choice.  X being what he is, he needs hands on learning, a  continuum from concrete to abstract, he has done so well in Montessori for so many years now, and so, of course, we'll mainly be sticking to this route.

But as I was starting to mentally plan how this was going to happen, I started to have this sense of uneasiness inside me.  One that I have felt before, and at this point, I knew very well what it was.

Anybody who knows a little about Montessori knows that material is an integral part of the method.  Loads of material actually. But, being what I am; simplicity being at the root of my life, I still cannot imagine having a room full of Montessori material . I just don't feel comfortable with that, I never have. It actually led me to researching other ways of homeschooling that would make me feel less trapped into material and tied to the price tag that comes along with all that.  My researches were not useless as I have started reading on a philosophy that was unknown to me before and that I will try to incorporate in our days (more on that later).  But the fact remained that Montessori was the best fit for X.

I came back to this book, and I came back to this post that I wrote what seems like ages ago, and I worked through my uneasiness to find what we work for us.  For X and also for I.

I have come to the conclusion that we will not be doing pure Montessori homeschooling.  We'll adapt the method to fit our life choices and make it ours.  I will not buy the whole shebang that goes with it.  I just can't.  It is too much stuff, well made, and very well thought and intended stuff by the way, but still is stuff.

And so while I keep on tuning plans in my head, I started making Montessori.  The homemade way.  It does take time, but I feel it is a good lesson for my children.  Good work pays off, and there are other way then the easy "wallet way".  I like that they are included in this process, and see the work making all this implies.  I think it makes them more aware of the value of this material, and they have a greater respect for it.
I also feel better knowing that I am using recyclable material that I won't mind either passing on or recycle for it to become something else.

That really eases my mind.

Depuis que le sujet de l'école maison a refait surface ici, j'ai passé des heures à réfléchir au comment.  Comment allons nous faire l'école maison?  C'est important pour moi que les méthodes que nous emploierons soient adaptés à X, mais qu'ils nous plaisent à tous.

Comme de raison, la méthode Montessori semble être, a prime abord le choix facile...  X étant le petit garçon qu'il est, avec le style d'apprentissage qu'il a, Montessori lui a comme un gant, depuis toujours au fait.  Et c'est pour cette raison que nous continuerons de suivre ce chemin.

Mais pendant que je faisais cette gymnastique mentale de préparation, je me suis mise à ressentir ce sentiment d'inconfort, un sentiment que j,ai déjà eu précédemment, et que j'étais, cette fois-ci, en mesure d'identifier.

Quiconque qui connaisse la méthode Montessori sait qu'elle nécessite du matériel:  celui-ci est la pierre d'assise de la méthode.  Et pas juste un peu de matériel: beaucoup de matériel.  Étant ce que je suis, une minimaliste qui étouffe dans le trop, je ne peux toujours pas m'imaginer avoir une pièce complète remplit de matériel sur tout ses murs.  Je ne suis pas confortable même a y penser.  Et ceci m'a même amené à investiguer d'autre philosophies d'éducation maison qui conviendrai  à nos besoins.  Mes recherches n'ont pas été vaines, j'ai en effet trouvé une philosophie que j'aimerai intégrer en partie ici (j'y reviendrai plus tard) mais le fait est que Montessori est la méthode qui semble le meilleur choix pour X

J'ai donc du gérer ce conflit de matériel vs méthode.  je suis retournée à ce livre, et à ce billet que j'ai écrit il y a des lunes il me semble, et j'ai pu venir à une conclusion.

Nous ne seront pas des Montessorien purs dans notre façon de faire l'école maison.  Nous adapterons la méthode à nos choix de vie.  Nous ne possèderons pas l'entière totalité du matériel Montessori, je crois qu'il est possible de faire avec des éléments choisis.  Après tout, nous ne sommes pas une classe Montessori, mais nous suivons la méthodologie Montessori.

Et pendant que je continue à me faire une image mentale claire de ce que nos jours seront, j'ai commencé les préparatifs du matériel que nous utiliserons. Montessori version maison.  Je suis satisfaite de ce choix, et je crois que ça enseigne des leçons importantes à nos enfant: la valeur du travail, la valeur de l'argent.  Comme ils participent de près et de loin à la fabrication de ce matériel, ils voient le travail que ceci implique, et ont un plus grand respect pour le matériel que nous mettons sur les tablettes.
Nous utilisons des matériaux locaux autant que possible, et surtout recyclable.  De cette façon, nous pourrons transmettre ce matériel à une autre famille intéressée de l'utiliser, ou nous pourrons le recycler pour en faire quelque chose d'autre.

Je me sens définitivement mieux.


  1. I can tell I'm going to love following your journey even more now! Will you share photos of your homemade Montessori and Montessori-inspired materials?

  2. We are on the same path. Jack will be starting preschool in a few weeks; just two days a week but beyond this we are a homeschooling family. I have been having the same thoughts; what does that look like? what will our days look like? How do my children learn best? We have decided to mostly follow Reggio style child-led investigations and continue to follow Montessori principles for living. We too are not in the position to buy a lot of materials. That and I (and Jack) are drawn to more inquiry-based learning which fortunately comes with a lot of asking questions about how things work and much less emphasis on materials.
    Kate xx

  3. Racheous: Yes, I will! In fact, check out my next posts, you should be happy with them :)

    Kate: Reggio/child led investigation is something I need to explore further. It seems well described in the preschool year, but what about the elementary times? I know it is early to ask you, but do you plan going this way in elementary too? DO you have resources? - thanks!

    For us, it is books. We love to read books. So this is the way I'm planning to use as complement. But as I am saying, I need to investigate further on inquiry based learning

    Thanks for your comments ladies!

  4. I'm so intrigued by the combo of homeschooling and Montessori!! And I also live in your area—Montreal, right? I will continue to read your blog and be inspired!

  5. Yes, we are going to continue with this style for as long as it suits Jack and Sarah. It's true, Reggio is intended to be an early childhood approach but the principles can easily and quite successfully I would think, be applied into elementary and secondary. I have a lot of general supplies which I can use when something takes Jack's interest but it is different to Montessori because there isn't a scope or sequence of activities; you really need to observe, find what interests them, ask lots of questions, read lots of books and let their interests guide your activities. Each day decides what will happen tomorrow, the questions asked today will be investigated tomorrow. You still work from concrete to abstract but rather than materials there is a large focus on inquiry and making your child's thoughts and ideas visible through art and other means.
    I might put a post together of my understanding of what this looks like.

  6. I read Your blog for few weeks now and love it!. It's such an inspiring place here. And now I think I'm gonna love it even more as I'm starting to homeschool my son (he is 6 and he will be pre-k) using montessori adapted to us. I can't wait for Your next posts!
    many greetings from Poland ;-)

  7. ccédille: I'm not in MTL, but I am not so far either ;).
    Thank you for reading!

    Kate, thanks for those precisions.
    I sure do hope you'll post an entire post about this. It is very interesting stuff indeed!

    Magda (c); Welcome to the club! I hope you'll have loads of success in your homeschooling! Thanks for being here!