Quite a number of you have asked why we are not doing Montessori Elementary.
I love Montessori. I really do. It has been wonderful to spend Bear’s preschool years working through the sequence in the albums. I am looking forward to doing so with J-jo. Our home is definitely Montessori inspired and we have followed and still follow the philosophy of “follow the child” and “teach me to do it myself.”
However, I find Montessori exhausting. Setting up trays and works takes a lot of time, as does printing, cutting, and laminating three part cards and nomenclature cards. Often the trays are used once and then never again. This is discouraging to me. My children are not drawn to three part cards. Bear likes making nomenclature booklets, but will not choose the work once the booklet has been made once.
I am not trained in either 3-6 or 6-9 Montessori. I took Karen Tyler’s 3-6 Montessori course two years ago and feel much more comfortable now teaching that Montessori sequence. The only things I know about Montessori elementary is what I have read on my own on blogs; consequently, I don’t feel comfortable trying to attempt that on my own. I think we have set down very good roots with our Montessori preschool at home and that now it is time to continue on with the Classical Model of education.
I need Bear’s things to be more open and go right now so I can focus on J-jo’s early education. Bear is off to an excellent start, far ahead of where she even needs to be, and is now capable of working more independently in workbooks, reading directions on her own. J-jo isn’t behind by any means, but I feel that he always gets the short end of the stick. I can give Bear a math book and she can complete the assignment and I know that the particular curriculum we have chosen (Singapore) is rigorous and covers everything a child needs to know for a great math education. That’s not to say Montessori doesn’t, but with Montessori at home, Bear wouldn’t necessarily choose the works to practice the math frequently enough. She would frequently choose the works she had already mastered and not push herself to choose the new work that needed practice. With the math book, it all gets done and practiced so I have peace of mind. I also love that Singapore is teaching her mental math strategies that we were not learning following the Montessori sequence. If you want insight into the Singapore method, I recommend reading Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics by Liping Ma. That book shows the depth of what we think is just basic elementary math. She describes how important it is to teach conceptual math, not just procedural math. The book is expensive so try your library or an interlibrary loan.
For other subjects, such as grammar and writing, we love First Language Lessons and Writing with Ease. She also writes stories and does free writing throughout the week. Again, those two programs are open and go and take 15 minutes a piece, if that. Montessori grammar is fun and we have done all the primary presentations for it. However, I have just spent an hour trying to plan a few Montessori grammar presentations for Bear and I am nowhere near done. The time it has taken me to read up on some word study and sentence analysis presentations in my language album, plus finding the sentences I need and printing them and cutting them, could have been spent snuggled up on the couch with my husband watching a movie. If I had many children reusing the materials perhaps I would feel it were more worth it. (Bear did ask today for some Montessori grammar presentations; hence my renewed efforts.)
For Spelling, we love All About Spelling (affiliate link is in the sidebar), and even though we will have spent an enormous amount of money on spelling by the time we finish all the books, I feel it is worth it. Bear is retaining the rules and applying them to her personal writing. The program itself is very hands-on and reminds me so much of the Montessori moveable alphabet – it’s one of the many reasons I chose it.
We will continue to insert Montessori work into the day, and when Bear finishes her daily contract, she has freedom to choose anything in the classroom to work on, in the true Montessori spirit. It has been hard for me to let go of Montessori elementary for Bear, but I am now at peace with it, knowing that what we are doing now works better for all of us.