Monday, January 7, 2013
Your Frequently Asked Questions, ANSWERED!
There has been a huge uptick in the number of questions I have been asked lately. I have intended to put up a "Frequently Asked Questions" page for a very long time. This weekend I finally found the motivation to take care of that. I have put the answers to the top 16 questions on a permanent blog page that can be found by choosing the "FAQ" tab at the top of my blog under the header. It is a LONG read, so I am going to post a few questions and their answers each day for a week or so in order to give you an opportunity to read it in smaller chunks. However, if you have burning questions all 16 questions and their answers are posted RIGHT NOW (on the FAQ page, not in this post). You can read them all at once if you wish!
YOUR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND MY ANSWERS:
I am asked a lot of questions every week either via e-mail or in the comments sections of my blog posts. A lot of the questions are the same. In order to get answers to you, the reader, faster I thought it would be helpful to have some of these very popular questions and their answers all in one place. If you have a question that is not answered here please feel free to ask either via comment or e-mail. I love to help people, and I love to discuss the nitty gritty of Montessori with someone who is actually interested!
I have been asked many of these same questions for more than four years now. Of course my answers have changed and will continue to change over time. I will try to address some of the age differences when I can. However, keep in mind on the day I am writing this I have a 5.5 year-old in his last year of Montessori primary and a newly-seven-year-old in his first year of Montessori elementary.
I don't actually get a lot of questions specifically about "Montessori." The questions I'm asked usually are more about the ins and outs of being your own child's teacher. A lot of the questions I am asked really amount to "parenting" questions more than even "homeschooling" questions. Because it is what I tend to do, I will tell you what I think. I am not an expert on parenting. My experience as a parent amounts to just the two imperfect little boys you see every day on the blog. The boys' two sets of grandparents don't seem to agree on whether we are doing a great job or ruining them forever. Since the jury is still out on that, you have to take or leave my advice and do what you think is best for your own kids. If my tone in any answer gives the impression that I think I'm an expert I apologize in advance. Like any parent, there are a few thing I do well and that's what I'm writing about here. My family would tell you if they could all about the crazy things I don't have a handle on.
Q1: Do you feel you need to have a separate school room for your Montessori materials?
A: You do not have to have a separate school room for your Montessori materials. In fact, you don't even have to have Montessori materials to homeschool in a Montessori way. However, I find it easier for me to have the materials. And, being an organized person, since I have the materials I have to have a place to put them. It makes sense to me to have them all in one place. Our Montessori materials have MORE THAN taken up the space in there (what was designed in 1978 to be the "formal living room" of our home). So, not only do I not want to have other things (toys, etc.,) in that space but I don't have room!
Q2: Do you set aside special time to be in the school room? How many days a week do you spend time in the school room?
A: Yes, we set aside time to be in the school room. In order for the boys to keep moving forward with their learning I need to keep giving them new presentations. I do a better job giving them what they need if I block out some time to do that in my schedule. When we have a "work session" it usually lasts about three hours. The rhythm of our days usually has us in there from 9 a.m. to noon. Currently with a 5.5 year-old in his last year of Montessori primary and a newly-seven-year-old in his first year of Montessori elementary we aim for 4-5 days in the school room. Last year I was only aiming for 3-4 days in the school room. The year before it was 2-3 days. Yes, Me Too has always gotten one more day of work than Kal-El did at the same age. That is one of the few perks of being the youngest child. We tend to spend four days in the school room more often than five due to things like the homeschool coop the boys participate in or spending time with family. The boys spend a lot of time in the school room outside of our work periods including evenings and weekends. Just this week the boys spent several hours in there on Sunday afternoon "playing school." They were taking turns being "the guide."
Q3: Can the boys go spend time in the school room anytime they wish? Is it locked?
A: Yes, the boys now have full access to the school room at anytime that I'm not specifically asking them to do something else (eat, bathe, go to the dentist)! When they were younger than four I used to lock the door (our old school room had a door, one could alternatively use a baby gate) to protect the materials and the children. There are choking hazards in there!
Q4: How do you begin a work session?
A: Start one? How do I stop one! The boys usually beat me to it. Often when they wake me up in the morning a lot of work has already happened! They know the routine and usually wander in there right after breakfast and get to work on their own. I keep an antique school bell in the room on the shelf (it was great for walking the line when they were younger). It is a beautiful way to get things started when they haven't begun on their own. Kal-El has turned the concept of a "school bell" on its head and loves to use the bell to call ME to the school room at random times to show him something.