I have found cooking with Bear very difficult. This has been for a number of reasons:
I continue to persevere because I am convinced that this is something that Bear and I can both benefit from. I have found lots of inspiration from itty bitty love and how we montessori.
Things I have found have helped:
The best things about cooking with Bear:
In the photos:
I was making herb dumplings for dinner at the kitchen counter. I set two mixing bowls and a spoon on Bear's table - one bowl had flour in it. He came and sat down right away to get cooking. He started by scooping the flour from one bowl to the other and back again. When he started to tire of scooping I gave him a herb shaker - that was a big hit! At first it was half full of some herbs. When they were all used up he brought me the shaker to ask for some more. I refilled it over and over with lentils and split peas.
"The training of the teacher who is to help life is something far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training of character, it is a preparation of the spirit." Maria Montessori.
My main objective for this blog was to keep me on track at planning for and implementing a homeschool program for Bear. I've been doing some hard thinking and research and come up with a skeleton of a plan...
First to answer "when?"
When will we start?
Obviously in many ways we've already started and I hope that our "program" will grow and evolve as Bear is ready for one thing after another. In order to set myself a goal and make sure I can keep up with him I will set a date:
When will we do "school"?
I think there should be a distinction between "school" time and "free" time. I would like to work out a rhythm to separate these parts of our days. There doesn't seem to be a rule of how much "school" toddlers do - Montessori schools offer a range of programs from a few days per week up to 5 days, just morning sessions or all day long. And of course practical life and self care happen all day long. It's hard to guess what's going to work for us but to start with something:
When will I work on his curriculum/materials?
I am going to aim to do at least 1 hour preparation per week per child. That time is going to need to be spent on research, organising, making or sourcing materials.
And the "what?" questions...
"If we do not plant knowledge when young, it will give us no shade when we are old." Lord Chesterfield.
The scope of the Montessori preschool curricula is huge and intimidating. I would love to offer it all but I think it would be wiser to guard my ambitions and aim to do a few things well. I keep at the back of my mind the reassurance that any education I manage to offer Bear before he goes to formal mainstream kindergarten is a bonus and probably more than his peers will have had.
I am not musical. But I am intrigued by the montessori approach to teaching children to love and explore music. I would love to share it with Bear. This is where most of my inspiration has come from.
Reading is such a gateway for learning. Once you can read the whole world is at your fingertips.
There is such an emphasis on maths in mainstream schools that success or failure in this area alone can dominate a child's self image. I don't want it to be a stumbling block for Bear.
The toddler period is preparation for preschool to learn concentration, coordination, language and responsibility.
"How" on Earth will we do it?!
There is such an amazing supply of free resources online for inspiration and guidance. I am sifting through them starting at the little list.
Materials (or the "How much" question)
There is no doubt that Montessori schools are expensive. I wonder if we would make the financial commitment if it were possible to send Bear to Montessori preschool... I love the traditional Montessori materials but even though we're saving money keeping Bear at home I can't justify the expense of providing them for one child (or one family of children).
Montessori schools seem so special. A special place. A special teacher. Special materials. Special activities and responsibilities. I would love to recreate this special atmosphere at home. But how?!
This is my favourite and the one I feel most confident about. We have a beautiful school room where Bear and I love to spend time.
For now there is no separation between the two areas. That won't be necessary until the baby becomes mobile. I am trying to plan ahead so that minor changes will accommodate both children as their needs change.
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
My mum made play dough for Bear the last time she came to stay with us. He didn't want to touch it but loved poking holes in it with different objects. I love the way his play dough looks once he's been working on it - which gave me this idea to preserve and display it.
First Bear got to work on some rolled out air-dry modelling terracotta.
Then it was my turn to punch out stars with a cookie cutter, poke a hole for some festive string and write on the back "Bear 2014". They took 24 hours to dry completely.
I love the way they capture his baby art. We're going to share them with our friends and family. I hope they love them too! Merry Christmas everybody!!
Child sized furniture is basic to the Montessori concept. But a toddler table was one of those investments I've been putting off.
I finally bought a little table with two chairs from Ikea. I found a very helpful chair and table height guideline here. I cut the chair legs to 6.5" and the table legs to 14". Gave it a coat of clear gloss to protect against grubby fingers and added some sliders to the bottoms of the legs. It fits him perfectly!
After watching Bear use it for a few days I'm impressed by how much independence, pride and ownership it has given him. The same day that I showed him this table and chair he was able to sit down and stand up independently. He began to bring his toys to the table to work. He started pushing the chair in and pulling it out. The chair is light enough that he can carry it around. He can move it so that he could sit and watch me prepare dinner in the kitchen or watch the cat out the window. All these things happened completely automatically without any prompting or guidance from me.
It brings to mind the other fundamental Montessori concepts that I haven't embraced yet... Cooking? The floor bed? Maybe one day...
Bear's absolute favourite toy at the moment. He'll work on this baby for an hour at a time.
Very cheap, quick and easy and totally satisfying seeing him choose it from the shelf again and again.
My name is Vicky I am wife to Ranger and mum to two boys - Bear (2) and Fox (8 months). Somehow I stumbled across Montessori and now my goal is to raise and educate my children with a Montessori philosophy in country NSW Australia.