Earlier is Better? Not necessarily so.


View reports of research that shows academic learning is not as beneficial to children as strengthening social and emotional skills and building intelligence. There is a difference between strengthening intelligence skills and strengthening academic learning.


Dealing With Toy Clutter


Great ideas are shared in this article on dealing with toy clutter, and getting kids to put toys away. Particularly useful in the Montessori method are rotating toys or materials, and keeping materials on a shelf in a basket or tray that makes clean up easier. Too many toys obviously causes clutter, but it also causes confusion. Less is better. Cleaning up is an important part of using materials in a Montessori classroom. Why not make that a similar practice at home? One toy is put away before taking out others, everything has a place and must be returned to that place when it is no longer being used. Organization, cleanliness, and neatness are learned behaviors and should be made habits early.

The Socialization Argument


Even with a classroom of 6 children, (as opposed to homeschooling families which most will have fewer children), I know there are going to be plenty of opportunities for socialization. I have already discovered several meetup groups that bring homeschooling families together, and I have also started one of my own. I am looking forward to scheduling play dates and field trips with other local home-schooling families.

In this day and age it is ridiculous to think that home-schooled children are missing out on socializing. Not only is that not true, but think about what kinds of socializing opportunities the typical public schooled child experiences. In public schools, children are for the most part, segregated by age, so most socializing happens only among children  the same age group. There is no depth of interactions that would happen in a mixed age group, where children learn to help each other and/or look up to each other. I remember when my middle school students barely knew others in the orchestra if they were in a different grade level.

Incidences of bullying are on the rise. Children are expected to put up with bullies day in and day out, and for many, causing stress and anxiety about attending school. Is this what the socialization argument is supposed to make homeschooling parents feel their children are somehow missing out?

Of course, not all children experience trauma in public school, and many children do develop strong friendships with their peers in school. But parents need not be swayed by any kind of argument suggesting that choosing to home-school your child deprives them of socialization opportunities.


School Sucks


Dear Readers,

I started listening to this podcast several years ago when I was a public school teacher and struggling with my emotions about whether I wanted to continue being a teacher and not able to put my finger on the root of my distaste for it. I mean, I was an instrumental music teacher, teaching kids to play violin, viola, cello or bass. I had an elective class, so I didn’t even have to teach “the masses”. I was teaching children who chose to be in my class. What is there to complain about? I loved teaching music!

I came to realize that what I hated about my job was but the administrative part of it, and ultimately, the philosophy and structure of it. Brett Veinotte’s podcast helped me come to this realization, and helped me come to terms with my struggle and get me to where I am now. If you haven’t listened to this podcast, I urge you to start from the very first one and follow his outline from the beginning. If you are already a follower of mine, you may already be convinced that avoiding public schooling is the way to go. But, if you encounter neighbors, friends or family that are entrenched in the public school mindset but may be open to seeking alternatives, I can truly recommend this podcast series. It’s easy to follow and understand. You have to be prepared for absolute bluntness, but in the end, it’s exactly what people need to hear. It’s real thoughts, real experience, and a real foundation for change in our current education tradition. Help spread the message!

Montessori & RIE


I am an AMI Montessori certified teacher, and came across Magda Gerber’s RIE method through web searches and social media contacts as I was researching childhood education since getting certified. I enjoyed reading articles and blog posts describing the RIE method and philosophy and started to discover that the two philosophies are extremely similar. For any of my readers who are wondering, this is a great article to outline the similarities and slight differences.

Let Concentration Happen


I would often receive this question from parents when I worked at my previous Montessori schools. As Montessori is well-known for helping children to increase their ability to concentrate, well-meaning parents, in an effort to cooperate and be consistent in the home, would want to know: How Do I Get My Child To Concentrate?

One of the most difficult parts of my job is battling my traditional school upbringing in so many ways. Yes, we have to guide children, be there for them, protect them, and teach them what we know. But, I can tell you honestly from my experiences, every attempt I have made to get a child to concentrate turns out to be a complete failure on many levels. The child gets angry at me, trust is broken, the child may even feel embarrassed and inadequate, the child grows to resent the lesson, and at the very least, no actual learning is taking place while a child is being forced to learn something! It seems to me the only lesson that I am trying to get across is to obey authority, at the expense of trusting yourself. So, even though my default is often to “teach”, in actual practice I do my best to allow concentration to happen and learn to not interrupt the child. Learning to let a child concentrate instead of trying to get a child to concentrate requires the utmost patience, restraint, and trust. But ultimately, I think most parents do want their child to be self-confident and creative, both of which are encouraged only by allowing the child freedom to follow his or her own interests.

Don’t Ignore the Tantrums


How to handle tantrums? I’ll be the first to admit, I struggled with this often during my previous teaching days. Especially in a class of 28 children, I could not spend a lot of time giving attention to tantrums, but I also felt that I could have actually encouraged tantrums by giving attention to them. In adopting the view now that misbehavior is a child’s way of expressing a need, it is critical to approach tantrums with dignity and respect for the child. I appreciate the suggestions offered in this article as steps to take to do this. It’s one thing to discuss and know what “not” to do, but another to have a bag of tricks to use when you are in a true tantrum moment and trying to convince yourself not to ignore your child.

Quality Time


Reading this article reminded me of one of the most important principles of the Montessori philosophy, which is observation. I’ve thought about it often as a teacher. Now, as a foster parent, I’m experiencing how to do this as a parent. Children don’t need us to dictate every minute of their days. They don’t need to be constantly entertained. In fact they will do better to explore on their own and just know that we are physically there for them. Always watching, always alert, but letting the child tell you his interests and letting him explore the world on his terms, with a parent securely nearby.

Moving Bodies


Montessori teaches that movement is essential to learning and development, and builds in movement with every lesson/material. To work with the pink tower, for example, the child is learning about size, weight, and sequence, but the child is also physically moving parts of the tower from its resting place to a work mat, one part at a time. Academic learning and physical activity should never separated. It does not make sense that a child should learn academic knowledge sitting at a desk and then have a separate class for physical education. Movement should be integrated into the learning process as much as possible. Kids learn best when their bodies are moving!


Choosing Battles vs. Setting Limits


You often hear teachers, child care workers, and parents use the phrase “choose your battles”. In some areas of life, this is a helpful solution to our problems. But in regards to raising children, this article suggests that it may not be a wise approach. I had not thought about that phrase in the way this author suggests. Although I try to stay away from using clichés in general, I have acted in this manner as a teacher many times. I will now think twice and speak up when I hear this, as it is so prevalent in our society. When we say we are choosing battles, it doesn’t mean to simply not let the small stuff bother you. To a child, it is confusing and inconsistent, and can lead to insecurity and negative behavior. Children are most secure when there are clear and consistent limits and boundaries. Reading this article changed my thinking on the attitude behind the phrase “choosing your battles”.