Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Frequently Asked Montessori Homeschooling Question #10

Q10:  How do you get your boys to do their work independently?

A:  One of my favorite parenting books ever is Burton White's Raising a Happy, Unspoiled Child.  Discovering that book before my sons were even born and then discovering Montessori when Kal-El was about 1.5 yo helped me work toward a healthy level of independence and good attention spans right from the beginning.  I would recommend reading White's book.  He began with "delightful six-year-olds" and then studied their families to find out what their parenting had in common to help them get "delightful six-year-olds."  It's funny how you forget things, I don't remember all of the details.  However, I'm sure there are countless factors that have worked together over the course of seven years that made this all work the way it has.  Here are some factors I suspect are pretty important:

  • I have pretty much never interrupted them or tried to play with them while they were playing nicely by themselves.  It is surprising how many parents unwittingly do that.  Or the child is happily exploring a toy and the parent interrupts to show them "other things" the toy can do or for some reason waves ANOTHER toy in front of them.  
  • Montessori homes encourage independent exploration and setting up almost everything so that even a very young child can do things themselves.  Independence is contagious.  When they used to relying on themselves to use the sink or choose their clothes they start to rely on themselves for all kinds of other things.
  • I also suspect it has something to do with how little T.V. they watch, that they never watch T.V. with commercials, and that I don't let them play video games (my husband does, but  it's a pretty rare occurence).  
  • I think our toy library system has encouraged them to play longer with things instead of switching quickly from one to another.  You can read more about the toy library and the effect on the quality of play in this post.  
  • The choice of toys.  We don't buy toys that "do things".  We have always bought toys that require the boys to "do things" and that they can "do many things" with. 
  • We have never used the word "boring" in front of the boys.  Probably for about five years they had never heard the word.  Now that they have heard enough friends and cousins use the word they know what it means.  However, the word is not allowed in our house.  I think they think it's a naughty word.  Not only is it more difficult to BE something that you don't have a word for but we are not constantly suggesting that they ARE bored like some parents do. 
  • I have a fear of exersaucers.  I call them "ADHD in the making."  I have no scientific research whatever to back up that claim, LOL!

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've never used the boring either - then my son heard it somewhere else. Now, *everything* is boring. I think he just likes the sound of it; he knows what it means, but I'm not sure he truly understands...

    He will tell you it means "you don't know what to do", but applied to a real situation when he is considering his options and isn't sure what he would like to do next (so still deciding), he says, "I'm bored" to indicate he is making a decision still.

    Or he'll use it when he's doing something he doesn't really want to be doing, because it's not what he would have chosen in that moment.


  2. It is SO interesting to hear how other families do things isn't it? Thank you for chiming in :)