Part 2: Montessori Homeschooling -Interview with Aubrey Hargis, Child of the Redwoods
Welcome to Part 2 of Montessori Homeschooling. Aubrey from Child of the Redwoods is here to share with you how you can homeschool your child using the Montessori method. In this segment, she focuses on what Montessori homeschooling looks like for older children, ages 7 and up. (If you are looking for information on Montessori Homeschooling for younger children see Part 1.)
Who is Aubrey Hargis?
Aubrey Hargis, M.Ed., is a parent coach and educational consultant best known for her empathetic approach and appreciation for the magic of childhood. As a life-long Montessori advocate and AMS certified guide, her passion has always been to bring Montessori into the mainstream. She is the author of two books: Baby's First Year Milestones and Toddler Discipline for Every Age and Stage.
As the founder of the Child Development Institute of the Redwoods, she creates online courses and coaches parents in compassionate discipline techniques and Montessori education.
Aubrey lives with her husband and two homeschooled children under a blanket of San Francisco fog, where the coastal cliffs and nearby redwood trails are always beckoning for another adventure.
What does Montessori homeschooling look like for children in the elementary grades?
At the elementary ages, homeschooling can look really different every single year. You will need to make a yearly decision if you will continue to homeschool or if you will send their kids back to school.
Homeschool before COVID was different! Something that was consistent was getting out into the world. It was going to museums, exploring your community, taking the kids to the grocery store and involving them in all of the daily life stuff. That was all part of your homeschool life. Typically, you will not a sit at a table and work from a desk all the time during the school day.
Montessori Homeschooling and Park Days
During the elementary years you have a consistent park day once a week. This park day will be your anchor for your homeschooling week.
You devote that whole day to just socializing outdoors, having fun, being with friends, relaxing, and not worrying about any kind of lessons or anything particular to do.
Montessori Homeschooling During COVID
With COVID, you no longer have the park day as your anchor for your week, you have to stay home and the only way to see friends is virtually.
Now, how do you homeschool now that you are home all the time? You need to reserve a specific block of time to work with your children. Sometimes your homeschooling time will will shift depending on your work schedule. So don't worry if it's not at the same time every day.
But you need to block off that time in your planner. If you don't plan for it, it will not happen! The day will just slip away. You will find that there is always some kind of work or home responsibility task to do. So, don't be afraid to work out the kinks.
At this age, your children can occupy their time easily, which makes it easier for you to get work done.
How to build your Montessori Homeschooling schedule and pick classes
The beauty of homeschooling is you can change your schedule to fit your day.
At the beginning of every school year you have an opportunity to take different classes. You can piecemeal your homeschooling life together and you don't necessarily have to do it by yourself or be responsible for the whole thing.
And in the elementary ages, somewhere around age seven or so, you start to have a rhythm of taking regular classes every semester. Typically you will take care of reading, writing and math at home, and everything else can be taken elsewhere, whether it be in person or virtual.
Your schedule will really fluctuate. It is your responsibility every year to put your kid's classes together and make sure you are covering all subjects needed, and then create you weekly and daily schedule from that.
Homeschooling Co-ops and Out School
You can have your kids in a little micro school or a homeschool co-op. With these types of classes you get together with other homeschoolers and someone else or you will teach a little class or have a tutor come to just teach for an hour for one subject.
During COVID , you can use Out School, where you can do live online classes and camps. These classes are not big time commitments either. A lot of them are just one off classes, so you pay $10 and you just get that hour with that instructor on whatever topic your kid is interested in. There are many classes to choose from.
You and your kids can look through their classes and pick out a few just to spice up what you're doing. Otherwise it can get very rote with just you and your kids.
If you don't have anybody else helping you with your child's learning, it can be exhausting, especially if you're trying to work at the same time.
Homeschooling for Middle-School
When you homeschool your middle-schooler you can find many different options online. Your middle-schooler can take history and government classes through Online G3. It's a very traditional online school and you sign up for a semester class. That class will run the whole semester.
Now, each child has different interest and styles of learning. However, you can find many different online classes depending on how your kid learns or what his/her interest is.
Often in Montessori, you think of creativity as being an arts or language heavy focused thing. But there's so much about tech that allows them to be creative in our current world. There are so many online tools and software that can be used, such as Photoshop and Audacity.
Involve Your Middle-Schooler in Your Homeschool Planning
Talk with your middle-schooler as you are planning out your homeschooling year. Find out if they feel like there is something that they aren't really good at and want to focus on for the year, interested in learning. Figure out what you are comfortable teaching and find someone else to teach those classes you aren't.
For example, if you are not a math person and you really have no desire to learn algebra right now, you don't have to. You can hire a tutor for math, and find someone who is willing to work with your kid's needs.
Download your Free Montessori Homeschool Planner.
The older your kids get, the more you are going to continue to piecemeal things. You might do online high school for all subjects, or you might piecemeal it and attend little co-ops with different classes here and there. You will then put together his/her transcript at the end of his/her high school years.
It's important that your kid gets a say on if he/she wants to go to public school or if he/she wants to continue to be homeschooled. And if he/she chooses homeschooling, your kid can decide whether to do it piecemealed or to attend an online high school.
The only worry at this point is making sure your child gets enough social time. The younger they are the bigger the playgroup choices are for homeschooling, however, the older they get, more kids do enter school and start going into different situations.
How to Go About Picking Curriculum for Homeschooling
As more and more homeschooling resources popup it can be very overwhelming to know what to pick. If you are feeling overwhelmed with going online and browsing for curriculum, just pick one. It will be okay. Just pick a curriculum. Don't get stuck in the research phase. Definitely look up the review though, as there scamming out there. There always is when something is popular. And right now, homeschooling is suddenly very popular.
Researching Homeschooling curriculum
- Look at reviews
- Got to actual homeschool communities on Facebook and see what people are chatting about
Most homeschoolers are going with tried and true resources. As you do a little bit of research, try not to overthink it too much.
The big thing is no matter what curriculum you go with, that is not the success of your homeschooling. Your success will be what you do with that curriculum.
Curriculum is just a resource
All curriculum is just a resource. You can use an old fourth grade math textbooks from 1983, or all kinds of little workbooks that will help you decide how to teach a particular concept. Or they can help you get inspired on a subject.
Do not get stuck in the comparison trap
It's easy to get trapped in the comparison. For example: Which math curriculum should I go with? Should I do Right Start? Or should I do Math-U-See? Both of them are sort of Montessori base. Both of them are about the same price, and both of them come with manipulatives. Which one should I choose? Which one is right for my child? You just don't know. Just pick something and try it out.
You do not have to purchase curriculum. There's so many free resources online. And then you just explore that and see where it goes with your child and see what speaks to your child. And then the next year, if you decide to homeschool again, you'll know which one you liked and which one worked for you child and you can just pick the next level up. Or, you didn't really like that one, you'll try something new.
Let me know what stage you are at with your homeschooling journey in the comments below!
How to connect with Aubrey
You can connect with Aubrey here:
Other Homeschooling Resources
- Download your Free Montessori Homeschool Planner.
- Guidepost Montessori