Monday, January 14, 2013

Frequently Asked Montessori Homeschooling Questions 8 and 9

Q8:  My child won't stay in the school room during the time set aside for our work period or doesn't want to do anything when they are in there.  How do you encourage continued work if they are not interested? What should I do?

A:  My kids never abandon the school room during a work period and they always seem to want to keep working.  So, I can't address the problem with a solution from  personal experience.  However, I can hypothesize about why that is.  I think it is because the school room is easily the most interesting room in our house.  The reason for that is a combination of no video games, very little T.V., and the toy library.  You can read more about our toy library here.  I think it helps a lot that there is no playroom or bedroom stocked like a toy store to wander off to.  The school room on the other hand is chock full of interesting things.  At my boys' ages they are also required to do a few specific things each day in addition to the work they choose.  So, if they were to wander off they would find that it just interferes with something else they want to do later (see question 7).   If you read the question about our daily schedule (question 13) you'll see that they have all afternoon and evening to play with toys by themselves.  Having Mom 100% at their disposal with all of the school things around them is rarer.

Q9:  My child won't do ANY work when in the school room, what should I do.

A:  The good news is, you have a stubborn kid.  My Mom always says that we have enough weak people in this world as it is.  Perhaps in the future you will consider it to be an asset.  Right now I'm sure it's driving you nuts.  The first step is to make sure that the school room is stocked with only work that you are happy with your child doing (see question 5).  The second step is to cater to your child's interests and make that work as attractive as possible (also question 5).  In this instance you probably want to take step two very seriously! The third step is to make the rest of your house as unattractive as possible (see question 8).  The fourth step is to be patient and try not to argue with them about it.  A child in a room full of interesting things in a house with no place better to retreat to is only going to sit and do nothing for so long.  Given the choice of sitting on the floor doing nothing for hours or choosing something off the shelf (especially if you have worked hard on step two), they should eventually find something to do.  Once they are in a habit of actually working in the school room you can shift your emphasis gradually from step two more toward step one.

Sadly there are some kids in this world that just don't like anything and can never find anything to do.  I suspect that in nearly every case they watch too much t.v. and play a lot of video games.  Research shows that t.v. and video games, particularly for boys, makes it more difficult to find other activities enjoyable.  My boys know this fact by heart.  If our family is trying to do something fun together and they boys act "lame" (for lack of a better word) I tell them that the fact that they are failing to see the the fun in what they are doing is telling me that they have been watching too much t.v. and that we will be not watching any t.v. for a given length of time until they are back to normal.

If you would like to read all sixteen frequently asked questions and their answers right away, you can find them at the FAQ tab at the top of the blog under the header.


  1. I am employing the use of a Toy Library as of today in our home! :) Right now, due to helping a family member out, all our five children are sharing one bedroom. And Christmas more than doubled their toys - they don't 'play' a lot with them, but do enjoy them from time to time. However, with so many in one room, it doesn't take much to make a mess. And then it becomes overwhelming to them sometimes, trying to keep it clean. I have been praying for a solution to this, to keep down the fussing and never ending discipline from not cleaning their rooms, and to teach them how to put things up right away when they are done with them. I am so glad I took the time to see what you meant by your 'toy library' and hope that our hallway closet + this idea, helps! Thank you!
    -Amy W

  2. I tried the toy library a while back, but it only lasted a week. Its time for me to try again! The only problem I had with the toy library was that they would play with something for five minutes before they wanted something else. So I was at the door every five minutes waiting for them to pick out a new toy :) In any case, I'm heading to the store this week to buy some more bins! Thanks for the inspiration (again)!

  3. Mel,

    I can imagine what you are talking about! I didn't go through that because the kids were used to toy rotation as infants and toddlers. The limited amount of toys at a time increased their attention span on each toy. Then, when they graduated to the toy library we didn't have that problem. You can read about the rotation system here:

    You might want to create a intermediate step for your particular situation where they choose a certain number of toys "for the day" at first. Then, once they are used to the limits and things settle in use a true "toy library" so that you don't drive yourselves crazy.