I absolutely love to spend time with my husband's aunt Toni. Not only is she a fantastic salsa dancer and wise beyond measure, but she is a retired Montessori teacher who loves to show me new tricks for helping my daughter learn. During a recent trip to our home, she showed me how the simple task of cleaning a window could not only teach kids independence, but help develop concentration skills. I immediately thought of my friend who homeschools her two daughters — she's always seeking new activities — and wondered, "Can you Montessori homeschool?"
First of all, what is Montessori education? Developed in the early 1900s by Maria Montessori, the curriculum is based on the idea that learning should happen naturally through real-life experiences, according to SheKnows. "In a Montessori classroom, children are encouraged to move freely about a room and choose from a wide range of hands-on, age-appropriate activities that are designed to teach specific skills," Elizabeth Weiss McGolerick noted in her article.
But is there a way to take those skills and teach them in a homeschool environment? Anitra J. Jackson, a Montessori teacher and creator of the blog Chronicles of A Momtessorian, tells Romper in an email interview, that it's absolutely possible.
"Parents might find a Montessori curriculum appealing in a homeschool environment in that it allows for flexibility, varying levels of development, and is based on the child's individual learning set," she says. "Parents don't have to feel as if they have to force certain skills upon their children. They learn at their own pace and level."
Deb Chitwood, creator of Living Montessori Now, noted that some of the most crucial elements of a Montessori space at home are the simplest. Essentials include a child-sized table and chairs, and a low shelving unit for activity trays that include various items, such as trays, math and science materials, sensorial objects, and books. Another perk of creating a Montessori-style environment is that it involves decluttering — that means you’ll have a great excuse to get rid of unused toys and other excess stuff.
Jackson says no matter how you decide to set up your at-home Montessori environment, be sure to do it in a manner that encourages independence. Some Montessori practices that a parent can include in their home are providing ways for their child to be independent as much as possible. "Provide opportunities for children to have and make their own choices," she says, like making a snack or dusting around the house.
No matter the type of education you choose, it can be useful to have options for creating a learning environment at home, whether it’s for homeschooling or simply entertaining your child. Plus, if it means an extra set of hands to clean windows, who am I to complain?