Photo Source: Elizabeth Academy
In turn, I listened as she shared her philosophy and ideas for working with children. Although I can't remember if she actually homeschooled her children, she did spend a lot of time working with them, teaching them, and guiding them along their paths. She sent me home with a lot of confidence, excitement, and a small book which formed the foundation of my early "school" sessions with Orion.
In all likelihood, the methods developed by Maria Montessori for early childhood education will not be new to most of my readers. There is a Montessori school in almost every city in Washington State, and nearly every parent I know has at one time or another expressed a desire to send their children to one of them. I even dreamed of enrolling Orion and working as a volunteer, but it was not in the budget.
The book Marie sent home with me, A Montessori Handbook, became my guide for the year. I devoured every word on every page, taking notes and developing a plan for giving Orion a head start. I dreamed of setting up our living room with stations, a somewhat far-fetched notion in our 700-square-foot home.
However, I didn't let our limitations stop me. While I couldn't set up permanent stations, I did purchase a Rubbermaid bin which I kept filled with beans and pouring tools for sensory exploration. Whenever possible, I used the materials I had on hand to fashion my own substitutions for the pre-made manipulatives many of the online stores sell.
Orion and I spent a half an hour every day doing a fun Montessori project. Sometimes we cut pictures out of magazines and pasted them to their matching letter card. Other times I let him match up the scent jars I made out of old pill bottles wrapped in construction paper. We used foam sticker letters separated in a small craft box to learn the sounds of letters and form words with them. Being able to move the letters around with his fingers, Orion was fully engaged in the learning activities.
Those days stand out as some of my fondest teaching moments with Orion. I've decided today that it's a good time to pull out the book and reinvigorate our homeschooling routine. Perhaps by next week, I can summarize her philosophy and how I've adapted it to our home. For I know that despite the fact that it has been almost five years since I read the book, I most definitely maintain many of her methods and principles in my own home education strategy.