It has been quite some time since I have posted to this blog. Our family has been adjusting to some changes and I have not had the time to write lately. When I started this blog, it was to share our adventures with others who may be interested in the Montessori method at home. This school we decided as a family that homeschooling was not working the way we had hoped. We decided that T (8) would be attending a Montessori school this year. I will be continuing with this blog, but the focus will not be on Montessori elementary homeschooling anymore. I will focus on my toddler, B (2.5) and her early Montessori education at home. I will also focus on some of our after school activities for elementary. We are still very much following Montessori, just not at home full time.
I would like to share some of the reasons for our decision with you all. A big part of this blog for me is sharing the good and the bad with those who may be in a similar situation. We struggled with homeschooling for 2 school years. My son attended a Montessori school for Primary and when the school developed some major administrative issues, we decided to pull him from the school. We looked for other options but we were very set on a Montessori education and the schools nearby were very limited, especially for elementary. We felt that our best option was to homeschool using the Montessori method. At the time, I was only familiar with the primary program and I dove into researching Montessori's elementary curriculum. I believe that the fact that we started homeschooling at the same time as transitioning to elementary was the worst timing for both of us. I did not have any teaching experience and I had no idea how to plan lessons. My son knew how things worked in primary and did not want to change his methods. We also had not acquired all of the materials we needed because I did not know how quickly he would progress. I purchased mostly primary materials when he was almost finished with them.
Our first year of homeschooling was horrible to say the least. We struggled every day and I began to give up. My son did not want to be at home, he missed his friends. He struggled with reading and writing which made most other subjects all that much harder. I let go some, and we did some unschooling for most of that year. The second year, I felt that we had wasted so much of the first year that I needed to get him on track. He was still struggling and I wanted to give up. We did a lot of field trips and anything that got him interested in work. The Great Lessons helped with his interest, but not as much as we needed. We talked a lot about how things were going and I found that he was just not happy at home. He missed his friends, he missed working with other children. He has been a very social child his entire life, and he was not thriving in this environment. We had homeschool groups but they were once or twice a week for an hour or two. His sister was home with him, but she was a toddler. He needed the collaboration with his peers that Montessori talks about in her elementary methods.
Another issue that we had was my daughter who was only 6 months old when we started homeschooling. She was also not happy with the situation. It was very difficult to have mobile infant in a classroom full of elementary Montessori materials. My son worked on the floor on rugs most of the time and she would rampage through the room scattering everything and putting tiny pieces in her mouth at any change. We had to ban her from the classroom altogether for my son to get any work done at all. I had to set up a separate space for her work as she got older because the age difference was just too great. There were times when she had recently turned 2 that she could work in the classroom with her lessons as my son worked on the table next to her. It would only be for short times and both would end up distracting each other.
In the end, we decided it wouldn't hurt to visit some local schools. There were two open houses of Montessori schools nearby. We took T with us and his eyes just lit up. He was so excited at the thought of attending either of these schools. He talked with the teachers and asked them questions. He walked around the room examining the materials and comparing what they had to what we had at home. I had not seen him this excited about these materials since he left his old school.
It hurt a little, to be honest, that he wanted so badly to go back to school. I had put everything I had into homeschooling him. I spent all of my evenings preparing lessons and materials for the last two years. I spent my days teaching and doing anything I could think of to get him excited about learning again. In the end, the idea of going back to school is what got him interested in learning. Once we toured the Montessori schools and talked with him, we decided to enroll him. Once he knew that he would be going back to school, he started working harder at home. His reading and writing improve dramatically over the next few months. He seemed happier all around.
I write this in part to explain our decision to no longer homeschool our child. I also write this in part to let others know that homeschooling really isn't the best option for every child. I love that we have the option to homeschool, and we are keeping that option open for next year if things don't go well at school, but it doesn't seem like it is for us. I have read many blog posts from homeschooling moms telling me that anyone can homeschool and any child can be homeschooled. For a while I felt like a failure because of this. I realize now that just because any child can be homeschooled, doesn't mean they will be happy in that situation. I would rather my son be happy and excited about learning at school.
I hope to continue this blog with a different perspective but the same goal. I will continue to share our journey through Montessori education, some from home and some from school. I hope you continue on our journey with us and I would love to hear some of your comments on what I share.