Thursday, June 30, 2011

Montessori at Home: 8 Principles to Know

by HEATHER on JUNE 29, 2011

(A Note from Teachermama Tina: This post originally appears on the Simple Homeschool site. I have been thinking about the different styles and methods used in Homeschooling, and the Montessori approach seems very interesting, though I don't know if I could pull it off! hehe. Enjoy reading!)
montessori at home
Written by contributor Heather Bruggeman of Beauty That Moves
Montessori education is a philosophy and model created by Maria Montessori, the first woman physician in Italy, in the late 1800s. At its core, Montessori education is designed to promote peace and considers the whole child as well as the environment in its approach.
It has been a primary influence in our family’s lifestyle and educational philosophy.
We’ve heard from some readers that you are interested in Montessori philosophy as it might fit into your homeschool. And some of you were looking for a little inspiration or direction to light the way.
If you are like me, you appreciate things broken down into easy to follow steps.
In 2005,  Angeline S. Lillard wrote a book called Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, in which she discusses whether or not a century old methodology can stand up to modern day scientific research in developmental psychology. Her research led to the understanding that Dr. Montessori’s ideas were, and still are, a very effective holistic approach to educating a child.
It’s an academic way of saying that Maria Montessori knew what she was doing.
In Lillard’s book she covers Eight Principles of Montessori Education.  Today we will look at those and think about how they may fit into your homeschool.

The 8 Principles of Montessori Education

1. Movement & Cognition

Movement and cognition are closely entwined, and movement can enhance thinking and learning.
For most of these principles I’ll list a few points to consider as a homeschool family, but this particular one calls for a brief story.
Sir Ken Robinson did a TED Talk on Schools Killing Creativity. He told the story of Gillian Lynne, a school girl whose parents were told she may have a learning disorder because she was fidgety and couldn’t concentrate. They sent her to a specialist. She restlessly sat on her hands while the doctor and her mother spoke of the problems Gillian had at school.
Eventually, the doctor said he needed to speak to the mother privately, he and Gillian’s mother left the room. As he was leaving, he turned on the radio that sat on his desk, when they left the room he said to her mother, “Just stand here and watch her.”
The minute the doctor and mother left the room, Gillian recalls coming to her feet and moving to the music. The adults watched her for a few minutes from outside the room.
The doctor turned to her mother and said, “Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick, she’s a dancer.”
Gillian Lynne went on to study dance and eventually become a world famous choreographer, her work included the productions of Cats and Phantom of the Opera. (Thank goodness for that doctor.)
Humans need movement, each in their own way.

2. Choice

Learning and well-being are improved when people have a sense of control over their lives.
  • Make a list of work assignments for the day and have them create their own schedule.
  • Keep a basket in the refrigerator of healthy snacks for them to choose from.
  • Create a basket of pre-selected (high quality) SSR books for them to choose from.
letter writing

3. Interest

People learn better when they are interested in what they are learning.
  • Fill a basket with oversized, ‘coffee table’ books from the library. These tend to be filled with beautiful, inspiring photography that will spark conversation and interest.
  • Create a lapbook or unit study around a favorite hobby, period in history, musician, author or animal of your child’s choosing.
  • Love letter writing? Create a letter writing station or box for kids to help themselves. Be sure to include everything needed: stationary, pens, stamps, address book, (laminated) copy of a properly written letter.

4. Extrinsic rewards are avoided

Tying extrinsic rewards to an activity, like money for reading or high grades for tests, negatively impacts motivation to engage in that activity when the reward is withdrawn.
  • This challenges normal practice for many of us. I don’t feel inclined to hand out money or treats for every job well done – but there is a pass/fail, win/lose mentality in our culture, and the older a child gets, the more they become aware of that. To be honest, I’m working on this one.

5. Learning from & with peers

Collaborative arrangements can be very conducive to learning.
  • Host a knitting group in your home
  • Meet at a funky cafe for a weekly study group
  • Form a young writers or poetry group
  • Seek out a homeschool debate team
  • Into film making? Gather with friends to make a short film.

6. Learning in context

Learning situated in meaningful contexts is often deeper and richer than learning in abstract contexts.
  • Make homemade yogurt rather than talk about how their favorite yogurt is made.
  • Learn about flora and fauna with field guides in hand and an afternoon trek through the woods.
  • Take a morning trip to the grocery store with a budget and menu plan.
  • Play with science by making homemade lip balm, soap, or natural remedies.
  • Keep chickens or bees!

7. Teacher ways & child ways

Particular forms of adult interaction are associated with more optimal child outcomes.
  • Have Week In Review meetings with your kids, individually if possible .
  • Children can partner with you on designing a garden, rearranging furniture (design), or reviewing curriculum choices for the coming year.
  • Collaborate on literature list for next year.
  • Have them recommend a few titles of books they love for you to read. (Does not matter the age of the child or if you wind up reading Jack & the Beanstalk – they will appreciate you honoring their judgment.)

8. Order in environment & mind

Order in the environment is beneficial to children.
  • Maintain an art shelf with easy to access projects that rotate from week to week.
  • Keep your learning environment clear of clutter.
  • Adopt “10 Minute Tidy” period at the end of the day.
  • Some families find workboxes to be helpful.
These principles can provide a helpful map to those in need, or simply a source of inspiration as we each look ahead to our next school year.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Freebie Friday - Phonics Program for Preschoolers

In my ongoing search for learning materials for Tim (attempting to put some order in our homeschool life, but with the crazy-busy schedule I have been having at work, preparing for CFC's 30th Anniversary Celebrations, I have been "delinquent" in homeschooling! huhuhuhu!), I got this great tip from a fellow homeschool mom about a FREE Phonics program she is currently using to teach her 6 year-old daughter. (Thanks Mommy Michelle!) I hope I will be able to use this soon on Tim too! :-)

Anyway, for everyone's info, here is the site:

Feel free to check it out for yourself! All you need to do is download and print all the books! Cool huh? Hurray for homeschooling! And thank GOD for freebies, and for the committed, wonderful people who put up uber-helpful sites like these! Praise GOD for you all!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Blessed To Be A Resource To Other Homeschoolers :-)

Photo from

I have been receiving e-mails and Facebook messages from other moms about homeschooling, and I feel so blessed and honored to be considered a "resource" for others. I am not an expert on homeschooling, and we have yet to put order in our homeschool life, so I am deeply humbled by all the messages I have been receiving. Anyway, here is one of those messages, and my reply as well: (I am posting them here in the hopes of helping others.. :-) God bless us all!

From a fellow mom on Facebook who discovered this blog:

Hi Sis Tina, i visited your blog website and it helped me understand homeschooling more. i hope you can add me here in FB, and hope you can help me understand homeschooling. I feel that I am the only one excited with the idea of homeschooling my child,my husband says he will support me but I am just really having second thoughts if I can really do it. I don't want my husband to be disappointed and of course I want the best for my child. Hope to hear from you soon sis. thank you.

Here's my reply:

Hi sis!

Thank you for your message. :-) I am so happy and grateful to the Lord that my blog is helpful to others. I am by no means an expert on the subject as I am, just like you and a lot of other moms, struggling to make sense of our homeschooling again, and to organize our homeschool (I still work fulltime for Couples for Christ or CFC), especially as we have been very busy lately with CFC's upcoming 30th Anniv Celebrations. We are still, in simplest terms, unschooling, and to be honest, there are days or even weeks where no "formal" homeschooling takes place. 

Anyway, praise GOD and congrats to you (and hubby) for the brave step you are taking to explore homeschooling. It may be challenging especially if you don't know where to start, so I am suggesting you start here: PRAY. :-) Ask God's guidance regarding your desire to homeschool and especially for hubby's continued support and understanding.

Also, how old is your child and what are his/her interests? This will help you determine the type of homeschooling you want to do i.e. unschooling, eclectic (mixed), Charlotte Mason, Bible-based, etc.
You may also want to decide which path is most suited for you, i.e. to be registered with a local HS provider like Catholic Filipino Academy or The Master's Academy by Christ's Commission Fellowship, or be independent (unschooling and eclectic would fall under this), or registered with a foreign HS provider like Seton, Kolbe, etc. It also helps to attend as many parents' orientations as you can and do online research, and to seek inputs from other homeschoolers (try joining the pinoyhomeschool yahoogroups).

If your child is still preschool age, my blog has lots of useful links on the header, and also may free curricula to choose from for preschoolers and toddlers on the right side. (Although what we actually use is mostly whatever I can think of! hahaha.)

Incidentally, CFA (Catholic Filipino Academy) has an early nursery program for 3 year olds and up, mostly focused on reading and early Math skills, which you can purchase for P8000 at any time of the year. You may want to check this out too.

I hope this helps you sis. I am not as organized as I would like to be, and as others may perceive me to be (blogging makes one look good huh?!) but I do try my best, and I just hope that God will use my blogs (I have another one at to bless others. 

God bless us as we seek what is best for our kids and teach them for eternal life! :-)

In Christ,
Tina :-)

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