A Montessori Home & Homeschool
“Supposing I said there was a planet without schools or teachers, study was unknown, and yet the inhabitants—doing nothing but living and walking about—came to know all things, to carry in their minds the whole of learning: would you not think I was romancing? Well, just this, which seems so fanciful as to be nothing but the invention of a fertile imagination, is a reality. It is the child’s way of learning. This is the path he follows. He learns everything without knowing he is learning it, and in doing so passes little by little from the unconscious to the conscious, treading always in the paths of joy and love.” —Dr. Maria Montessori
WonderHere home educators and studio instructors believe that children learn best when provided the space, resources, and mentors to foster imagination and child-led wonder. We research and respect big ideas from educational pioneers such as Dr. Maria Montessori, to inspire the curriculum we write, the learning environments we design, and the way in which we teach our children.
The Montessori Method of education is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood developed in the late 1800s- early 1900s. While working in various schools and with diverse groups of children, through trial and error and scientific observation, Dr. Maria Montessori discovered that when teachers stand back and “follow the child”—that is, to let children’s natural interests take the lead, children truly had the power to educate themselves.
Here are key ideals surrounding the Montessori Method:
- Every child is an individual and should be valued and educated as such.
- At an early age, children can develop order, coordination, concentration, and independence.
- The learning environment should contain multi-ages and remain for a minimum of 3 years.
- Children should be given great freedom to decide self-pace and activity selection, within predetermined and predictable boundaries.
- Students are supported in becoming active seekers of knowledge.
- Self-correction and self-assessment are vital tools students use while learning.
A Montessori-inspired Home
Whether you homeschool or not, you can create a delightful space within your home that fosters imagination and encourages independence for your child. With careful touches in key areas, you can send a clear and beautiful message to your child that they are capable of much, that they can do hard things, and that their wonders matter- key WonderHere mindsets.
Minimal & Accessible Spaces
In the “prepared environment” you design spaces with the child in mind. Each Montessori-inspired space should be calm, have things placed at child height, furnishings that are child-size, natural elements, natural lighting, neutral in color tones, natural wood, and free from busy and clutter.
The materials that can be found in a Montessori classroom are a lot of “real” and practical materials- glass, metal utensils, real pictures or objects. You won’t find toys or objects that are primary colored, flash light, or make sounds. These kinds of things are seen as over-stimulating and in a Montessori classroom they would rather have real instruments and household/practical objects for the children to play with. If you walk into a Montessori space, the first thing you will most likely notice is the shelving. All of the materials are out on the shelves, to be seen by every child. You won’t find bins on the shelves, but baskets that are short enough to be able to be seen, and lots of trays. Finally, you will notice that the materials in a Montessori space are neutral in color. Again, this is because Montessorians want to have their children attach to reality, the materials in a Montessori space are timeless and have been used for over a century!
A Montessori-inspired Homeschool
At WonderHere, we have borrowed many of the wonderful ideas within Montessori and adapted them. Using ideas like the Work Cycle and Work Plan, we are able to individualize learning for each child and make room for them to self-pace and select activities that are of interest to themselves. Within a Work Plan, the parent or instructor has the ability to assign activities that focus on the child’s individual abilities and interests and apply a platform that propels the child to grow.
Typically, a Montessori Work Cycle lasts for 2-3 hours of uninterrupted learning. Dr. Maria Montessori found when collecting her research while observing children in the school setting, that they would be working on something, and close to having a breakthrough, but then be moved on to another subject. Through using a work cycle, kids will be able to push through and find a sense of understanding for the concept they are working on, without distraction or having to move to a new idea if forced to deviate from their ideas in an effort to remain with the collective group of students.
A work cycle can be used from infants to high school! When you think about it, babies are already on their own type of work cycle: tummy time, feeding, naptime, repeat! Toddlers and young children should start around a 1 hour work cycle. For early elementary up to older children, 2-3 hours is ideal. The most important thing is that it is uninterrupted, and that the atmosphere is prepared. You set the expectations ahead of time. You will need to teach your kids how to do the work cycle activities before it begins. Work cycle is not you teaching your child, it is your child exploring and creating. It gives them ownership of their learning.
The ‘work plan’ is the listing out of the activities available during the work cycle. For younger children, the work plan may consist of only pictures–for older children, it is written out. Putting together the work plan takes time and preparation. You will want to include 1-2 language arts activities, 1-2 social studies/science activities, an invitation to play and create, a writing prompt, and a math project. The work plan should be specific to the individual child. The activities should be engaging! Find things that interest your child! For example, if your child loves Legos, you can apply so many educational activities with Legos to the work plan! Follow the child!
A work plan should be able to last a week, possibly even two. Your role during the work plan is to be an observer! Set the atmosphere and investigate, that’s your role! If something is too easy, too difficult, if the child is disengaged – try to find the reasons why. If something is not interesting to them, can you teach it in a different way, or use different material? They will need guidance and you can do it! Check out our examples of work plans by age, and suggestions to get you started!
Dr. Maria Montessori dedicated her life to the work of studying how children grow and develop. Her efforts have led to the establishment of thousands of Montessori-style schools across the globe. Her method of learning has stood the test of time, with over 100 years of children growing up in Montessori programs and thriving.
Like Dr. Maria Montessori, WonderHere believes that all children have the capacity to learn, that children learn best when their learning focuses on each child’s individual abilities and interests, and when learning allows for children to self-pace. Above all, implementing any of these ideas takes time and patience. With research-based tools like work cycle, work plan, and intentional designs, being Montessori-inspired can foster more joy, wonder, and imagination into your home and homeschool!