Monday, March 16, 2009

Working together

Hurrumph... We had our first work cycle (2 hours) together today. Both boys are home on Mondays but I haven't been doing a structured work cycle with them, rather just doing Hug's school set "homeschool" activities (this term: Cooking & Cleaning). On the Montessori front I have been doing about an hour with Lovely twice a week for the past 2 months & separate activities with Hug at different times, but not in a formalised way like this. And, to be honest, I'm a little underwhelmed with how it went. 

I struggled to keep them focused. They complained. I had to be firm. I had to redirected. I insisted. They resisted. I had to ask them (each on separate occasions!) to come out from a hiding spot. I know that it was longer than I've expected either of them to focus on this work for a while but - Eeeeek! This is not want I wanted, not how I imagined it would go.

There were nice moments! Here, Hug has the Australia Continent Box contents out & has (on my suggestion) 'invited' Lovely to look at all with him. He did a good job of talking him through it all, too.

The thing that got Hug really focused was when I showed him how to use my paper cutter. He did if for about half an hour before I asked him to choose a work from the cupboard because I felt like he was using it as a distraction from having to involve himself in any of the Montessori cupboard work. 

Maybe that was a mistake? He was obviously enjoying it but at the same time he often doesn't like applying himself when he is *asked* to. I know that sounds kinda crazy to say when he's only 5 and a half! But, the teachers at his Montessori preschool struggled at times, I think,  to get him involved in choosing activities especially anything challenging. He would have preferred to have just drawn or would get a bit silly. They had to lead him to the Maths & Language materials & he wouldn't choose them on his own to follow up on lessons. Now I know that we are all different and Hug obviously has a leaning towards artistic endeavours but he is also a really smart kid with an amazing vocabulary and lots of amazing ideas. He can work on following really intricate Lego instructions all by himself... I just can't see what the connection is, or more to the point - what I'm missing.

I originally got interested in Montessori when Hug was 2 because I really felt it would suit him. I felt that he needed & would love the opportunity to drive his own learning AND I also felt that he needed to learn self-control and everything that goes with that. 

I don't feel that I've lost faith in Montessori at all but more in my ability to provide him the right environment to blossom in. I know that he wants to learn his own way - but he takes it to the extreme at times with refusing to be shown anything, lessons included. It kinda feels like he *wants* to *resist* any organised learning and when all I really want is to instill in him a LOVE of learning, that's a really sad thing :(  

I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to force this work on them at all - but I do believe that it's important & that it's not asking too much to insist that we work on these things for a certain period of time.

I need help! 

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Comments :


  1. How about trying shorter work periods? Two hours all at once seems kind of long.

  2. I was going to suggest the same thing as the person above.

    Good luck!

  3. "more in my ability to provide him the right environment to blossom in"

    You can't do this to yourself. I think his inability to sit for 2 hours at a time means he might be a 5 year old boy. ;)

    It seems to me like you need a bit more Waldorf in your style right now. And maybe you can move back to a more structured style a bit later, but right now your son needs to jump on a trampoline while singing the national anthem, or learn his ABC's by writing notes to you in mud outside (it *is* summer there where you are, right? ;) )... something that involves his whole body.

    Something that a friend of mine does with her youngest is she makes floor flash cards. Little words that they can read or almost read on full sized 8X11 cardstock(for age 5 that is usually 3 letters and short vowel sounds (CAT, POP, Etc.)) and then she puts them on the floor and will turn her back... then she says the word and when her kid finds it, he tells her to turn around. He is practicing reading but totally in a toddler/young child kind of way.

    If it was me, I would have one of these really active activities before I asked my kids to do ANY sit down work for the day. Even 'have a relay race across the yard' would work to get them going... you could have them race to water their half of the garden and then come back. You could have them recite the ABC's while jumping on ABC's you drew on card stock. Just something active to get their days going. Hopefully, by the time they are required to do the sit down work, they will be a bit tired out and ready to sit down anyhow.

    It is a very Waldorf idea, but also very universal when it comes to little boys. I used to have Alex run around the yard 10 times before he went to school. It works. :)

    HTH... or at least gives you something to try.

    Have a great day!


  4. Phew - thats a tricky one. I dont have any advice - only new to the game myself and with a 19mth old. But feel for you. Have you considered posting the question to the yahoo groups - montessori online for example. They often provide some useful info back to questions. Best of luck. xx

    Ps I love your honesty and your blog.

  5. I've just started using Montessori activities with my youngest, who is 3, and I have already found that he has a difficult time sitting still and gets bored easily while working on one thing for too long. So, I was going to suggest shorter work periods as well. I'm just learning though, so I'm not very helpful at this point!

    Also, just wanted to let you know how helpful your blog is to me, especially just knowing that I'm not alone in this process.

  6. I don't have any advice, but I wanted to let you know that I relate. I have been trying Montessori things with my three-year-old with some success. What usually happens is he'll be excited about a new material, use it once or twice, then lose all interest in it. I wonder whether it is the way I have things set up or just his personality. I haven't tried any structured preschool time, but I know when I suggest he does school or tries a particular activity he resists. I am constantly trying to rethink things, but I am not giving up on it yet. Especially when I think of the progress we have made on his concentration and the things he has learned.


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