For the past little while I've pondering the idea of 'loosing up' the structure of our Montessori workcycle time. It does work quite well for Lovely & I (aside from a few issues which I'll list below) but it wasn't working out great for Hug.
In regards to Lovely, we have 2 mornings a week that are dedicated Montessori mornings. Hug is home on Mondays & I hadn't found a good rhythm for "working" with both of them so we generally have an outing or meet with friends for our crafty homeschooling day & then Lovely has 2 days at "school" & then there are only 2 days left. Having said that one of those mornings is when the Farmers Market is on (so many wonderful Practical Life lessons to be had there!) & I really want to commit to getting there *every* week. Ideally I would love to have 3 Montessori mornings a week & I seriously considered keeping him at home (his "school" is a Waldorf family day care) for the rest of this year but he was soooo excited when school came back after the holidays that I knew it wasn't the right decision, regardless of how much I might have liked the idea.
The other thing that I find tricky (in regard to working with Lovely) is that being just me & him - I am definitely "too involved" in the activities he chooses. I know that he could be quite an independent Montessori student were he in a Montessori classroom but when it's just 1 child & his mama it's hard to get the balance right;) Often, when I attempt to "blend into the background" (read or write some notes in a chair close by) he takes that as a cue that I'm not interested in the workcycle any longer & he loses his commitment to it too. I think it's understandable because in a classroom situation he would have the example of all of the other children working independently which he doesn't have here so I often find myself more involved than I'd like to be.
In regards to Hug, as many readers may have noticed I have spent the past year embracing the "Follow the Child" mantra despite the fact that I felt that it was leading us away from my Montessori ideals. I have worked hard to not put any pressure on Hug to do "work", although I will often ask him if he'd like me to show him something. Usually the answer has been no & I've respected that although I know that there are many Montessori-style activities that he probably would enjoy.
This week on Monday morning when we usually meet with friends for our 'Homeschool day' we all felt like actually staying at home & I said that we would try something new - that I would leave the Montessori cupboard open all day so that they could choose to work from it if they liked - or not. Hug actually asked me why he hadn't been doing any "preschool work" (as we call it - in reference to Hug's old Montessori preschool & so as to not confuse the children & their Waldorf teachers - my Montessori plans are rather private in that regard) in a long time & I answered with honesty that I didn't think that he had wanted to.
Well, he really surprised me! He immediately got out the Geometric Solids (I made them *!!* but I still haven't got around to posting about them) & did some wonderful work with them for quite a long time. Later, he got out a pack of wipeable addition cards that I keep on his shelf & proceeded to do more than a dozen of them! Pretty amazing for someone who hasn't done any structured Maths 'work' for months. He didn't want to listen to my suggestion to use the glass counter beads in conjunction with the cards (my nod to Montessori manipulatives) but did ask me to get out the other packs of cards (there are subtraction, division & multiplication cards in this set) for next time. Wow. He also spent time juggling lemons (that explains that first photo then!), talking to our neighbor about getting a solar hot water system & looked at an interactive science book.
Interestingly it was Lovely who had trouble settling into this workcycle... he didn't like my focus being split - if I wouldn't sit with him / join in with his activity then he wasn't interested! Again, I think it was completely understandable because he just isn't used to it. After a few half-hearted attempts he wandered off started playing elsewhere. Actually, he went & made us all a snack (Butter and Vegemite corn-thins - yum! - which was self-motivated PL :) & later we baked cookies together to share with friends in the park in the afternoon so he did end up having a productive day too.
Anyway, this has become far more long-winded that I had imagined! But it's just the first jumbled thoughts of my emerging plan to open up our Montessori learning into a way that will sit with our family in a more organic way.
Just this morning I read a wonderful post from the new blog (Hi C!) Sunrise Learning Lab about her littlest son who got up at 4.30 in the morning so that he could do the Montessori work his big brother was planning on doing first up! The commitment! I love it :). Her boys choose work in the evening to put out on the table to start first thing in the morning - often eating their breakfast at the same time. Wow. Now, eating & using the Motessori materials at the same time goes against my instincts in theory but I *love* how Montessori is merging in with their lives. School-time is life-time. And that is very cool.
How do you / would you like to / might you suggest / could you imagine - relaxing Montessori to fit in with life at home while still staying true to the underlying principles? I'd love to hear your thought...