When my husband and I were first drawn to homeschooling, it was in large part due to a desire to offer a Montessori education to our eldest son. Since then, we have been through periods of focusing on Montessori as well as ones of meandering through ideas born from such approaches as Charlotte Mason, Reggio Emilia and Classical. Most recently, to the outside eye, we probably look like we are Unschooling by default. Still, I consider us mostly Montessori.
As I reflect on our homeschooling journey so far, I realize that while our home has yet to metamorphis into one that "looks" Montessori and our activities from week-to-week sometimes are not ones a Montessori-purist would recognize, my heart is inspired by Maria's work. Montessori philosophy continues to be an enormous influence on how we not only educate our children, but parent them.
Bear with me a moment through a seeming non-sequitar, and I will illuminate this...
Prior to marriage and kids, I recall several periods of my life when I was faced with depression. Three strategies "worked" to get me out of these periods:
- Working from the outside in. Making a conscious effort to smile and appear happy. Eventually, the joy I acted out for others seeped back into my true being.
- Working from the inside out. Using prayer and reflection to bring myself to a place of peace and acceptance. In time, it turned to outward happiness once more.
- Exercising like mad. Running, swimming and just keeping moving until I was too exhausted to do anything but sleep. The endorphins kicked in to get me through the more mundane parts of my days and, eventually, it appeared I'd moved past the depression.
I liken our family's Montessori journey to this:
- Modeling our physical environment and activities after those in a traditional Montessori classroom. When time, space and budget allow me to do this (and maintain it!) I begin to feel very Montessorian and see my children benefit from the efforts.
- Reading and reflecting about Montessori principles and applying them. When life gets out-of-whack, the house becomes less than Montessori-looking and Unschooling-type periods occur, I find that if I stick to the idea of "following the child", being an Observer and still trying to stay aware to my children's interests and needs, providing them with appropriate challenges and work, we do well. We may not look Montessori, but we live it.
- Pushing through. Inevitably, when faced with unexpected challenges, multiple weekly appointments, etc., sometimes time or focus for maintaining a Montessori environment and finding time to plan and reflect is is short supply. During these times, it try to just roll with it. Eventually, things normalize again.
Want to see some short snippets and longer explanations and reflections of our Montessori-inspired work and thoughts, click on over.