Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Our Curriculum 2013-2014

Looking at the name of this blog you probably guessed that our main curriculum is Montessori. Well if you know much about Montessori, you also know that there is no curriculum for Montessori. Montessori is a method of learning developed by Maria Montessori. The method of teaching has been passed down to new generations by means of teacher training. Each teacher (also called guides) will write their own manuals during their training and these manuals describe the materials and how to use them, along with the order they should be used. Because each trainee writes their own manuals, they will all be slightly different. There are also different styles of Montessori training, which impacts the manuals as well. AMI is Association Montessori Internationale and is a more traditional Montessori approach. This group focuses on the traditional materials, style of teaching and order of lessons. There is also AMS, American Montessori Society, which provides more of a modern Montessori approach. AMS manuals are often more helpful in terms of making your own materials and adjusting your lessons to a homeschool environment. The AMI manuals will assume you have a full inventory of Montessori materials on hand but you will get a more authentic Montessori experience when using these manuals.

I have struggled with a decision on what manuals to choose. The reason I chose the ones I did was actually because I was able to find a large amount of them used from a local Montessori Homeschool teacher who's children were done with them. I was able to get them for a fraction of the original price and since I wasnt sure which to choose this seemed like a great deal to me.

Our manuals are from Montessori Research and Development. I have both Early Childhood and Elementary manuals but not the full set of either. I have most of the lower elementary manuals and we are trying to work through them. I have mixed feelings about them. Id like to share the pros and cons that I have found with these manuals.

Pros: They seem to be very thorough and clear. They provide the needed materials first and then describe the reason for the lesson and the approximate age. The instructions are easy to follow. You dont have to buy all of the manuals at once. The price is better than a lot of other manuals and they are much easier to find used (i believe this is because many others are downloads which Im guessing makes it so you cant sell them when you are done).

Cons: pictures or drawings would be nice. Im not sure if other manuals have this or not but there are almost none in these. There are some diagrams and some small charts but no pictures of the materials. There are a lot of manuals to purchase and organize. Many other manuals don't break down their manuals as much. There are 5 elementary language arts manuals that you must purchase separately. Also its hard to know if they overlap. For example, the Ele LA manual 1 and 2 overlap, you start manual 2 before you finish manual 1, but you dont know this unless you have the manuals and can read through them. They provide the table of contents for each online but this doesnt give you the scope and sequence. It is difficult to organize lessons from so many different manuals that are all used at the same time.

I have to say that I am struggling with planning and knowing when to introduce new lessons. I think if we had started in Primary (early childhood 3-6yr) and then transitioned to elementary (6-12yr) material it would have been easier but we jumped right in at elementary when my son was 6. We didnt use the manuals much at all last year because I couldnt figure out how to use them. I have been reading through them all summer and trying to make a plan but Im still struggling.

Beyond Montessori R&D manuals and Montessori materials, we are using a few other learning resources. My son loves Life of Fred books. He enjoys having me read the story to him and then answering the questions at the end. We have only done the first book Apples, so that is the only one I can review. I found it to be fairly simple for first grade.

For handwriting we have been using Draw Write Now and Handwriting without Tears 2nd grade. I like both programs and I feel like they both helped immensely last year. His handwriting was very difficult to read last year and it took him so long to write that it made it hard to do lessons that included writing. He hated writing because of this. After working with these two programs, he is more confident, writes more clearly and more quickly. He still has much work to do in terms of writing on the lines, sizing, spacing and case.

I want to start working on cursive this year because I feel like he might have an easier time with it. We are getting the sandpaper letters in cursive first and then Im not sure what program we will use. I have looked at the HWOT 3 grade that starts cursive and I am not impressed. I dont like the modified cursive, I would prefer classic cursive (like the sandpaper letters). I havent found what they do in Montessori for cursive besides the sandpaper letters and moveable alphabet. Id love some ideas if anyone has any.
I also have some games that we use in our school room for supplementing. I will describe them in upcoming posts when we use them.

The preceding list was for my 7 year old son who is doing 2nd grade. My other child is a 1.5yr old girl, she will be doing Tot School. Basically Tot School is everyday living with the Montessori method inspiring it. There are some Montessori materials that she can use but in a sensory capacity. She is in the stage of the absorbent mind, she explores and learns without actually being taught. She does puzzles, knobbed cylinders, and part of the pink tower. We try to keep our house as "Montessori" as possible, which means we try to make everything accessible to the children so they can do things for themselves.

There you have it, our curriculum plans for the 2013-2014 school year.

Not Back to School Blog Hop

1 comment:

  1. Regarding your cursive question: Montessori should really focus on the key concepts so that each individual child can follow specific interests. Beyond the spl for learning the shapes of the letters, there is the banded-lined paper and lots of practice just writing, once the spl are all learned. A sand tray can be used before writing on paper, as well as chalkboards and large blank paper before moving to the lines, if a child needs these.